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M Health Fairview closes drive-up COVID-19 testing centers in Twin Cities

It comes after the Department of Health placed restrictions on who can get tested.

A little over an hour after new restrictions were placed on who can get tested for coronavirus in Minnesota, M Health Fairview announced the closure of its drive-up testing sites.

The health provider had opened four clinics for drive-up COVID-19 testing in the wake of the outbreak, with patients able to book tests if their symptoms qualified after using the organization's OnCare online portal.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Health announced that due to the limited number of COVID-19 tests available nationally, it would be restricting tests to those hospitalized, healthcare workers, and those in "congregant living" situations such as long term care.

A short time later, M Health Fairview issued a statement saying: "Drive-up testing centers will close, effective immediately, and staff are being reallocated to enhance our online services.

"M Health Fairview continues to work to limit the potential of exposure and spread for our patients and we thank everyone for their patience and adherence to public health guidelines regarding social distancing and self-isolation."

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It has said it will continue to counsel patients through OnCare and advise on a course of care for anyone experiencing symptoms.

While only 60 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Minnesota, the actual number is almost certain to be much higher due to limited testing availability. Those experiencing "mild" symptoms including fever and a cough may well have coronavirus, but are being told to isolate themselves at home and limit contact with their family and anyone else they live with.

"The majority of people with these symptoms will recover at home in self-isolation and patient care will be guided virtually or by phone by our health care teams," M Health Fairview said.

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