Gov. Tim Walz has announced the launch of a new website that will direct Minnesotans to the nearest location where they can get tested for the coronavirus. It includes a health screening that can be used to determine if someone needs a test and where they can get one. You can find it here.
Currently, there are 127 clinics and healthcare facilities across the state that are able to offer the diagnostic test for COVID-19, with this number expected to increase over the coming weeks as the state ramps up to carrying out 20,000 tests a day.
The coverage is relatively widespread across Minnesota, though there appears to be limited options for those living in areas of north-central and east-central Minnesota.
As for the screening questions, anyone who inputs that they are exhibiting symptoms including coughing and shortness of breath are now being told to get tested immediately.
The same goes for anyone who has been in known contact with someone with COVID-19. This marks a change in process for the state which had previously prioritized the limited number of tests for healthcare workers, the hospitalized, and those in congregate living settings.
Anyone who is not exhibiting symptoms, has not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 are described as "medium" or "low" risk depending on their ability to social distance, and are advised to continue self-isolation and social distancing, and limit their risk to the virus with regular hand-washing.
Most locations will test anyone with symptoms or someone who is asymptomatic but has come into contact with infected patients.
“Access to COVID-19 testing is critical to moving Minnesota forward during this pandemic,” Governor Walz said. “This tool will help make our widespread testing initiative accessible to all Minnesotans, and it’s a direct result of our partnership with the cutting-edge health care sector in Minnesota.”
Test results generally take 2-4 days from when the sample is picked up from a healthcare facility, the site says, which is longer than the 24-hour turnaround the state and the likes of Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota hope to have in place as testing ramps up.
The state's plan is to identify, isolate and trace cases of coronavirus in the state as part of an effort to slow its spread.
“Aggressive and expanded testing is an essential part of our overall strategy to mitigate this pandemic,” Commissioner of Health Jan Malcom said. “As we strive to reach our goal of testing up to 20,000 people per day, we must do everything we can to expand access points across the state. This work is literally saving lives.”
Currently, there is no mention on the new site of accessing serology (antibody) tests that can tell people if they may have previously had COVID-19.