Minnesota is not reaching daily COVID-19 testing capacity; those with symptoms urged to get tested

State health officials want anyone with symptoms to go in for a test.
Author:
Publish date:

It was April 22 that Gov. Tim Walz held a media briefing to announced a "moonshot" plan to ramp up Minnesota's COVID-19 testing capacity to 20,000 per day. At the time, health officials estimated that it would take 2-4 weeks to get to 20,000 molecular tests each day. 

Four weeks later – precisely 28 days on Tuesday, May 19 – the most diagnostic tests conducted in a single 24-hour period was 8,612 between 4 p.m. May 14 and 4 p.m. May 15. 

Gov. Walz previously said the state needs to be doing 5,000 tests per day in order safely reopen the economy, and reaching at least 5,000 per day has become relatively consistent in the week leading up to the governor's Stay Safe MN executive order, which has allowed more customer-facing retail businesses to open at 50 percent capacity. 

Tests reported per day: 

  • May 5: 4,957
  • May 6: 4,189
  • May 7: 3,849
  • May 8: 4,993
  • May 9: 4,825
  • May 10: 4,693
  • May 11: 5,053
  • May 12: 3,517
  • May 13: 6,717
  • May 14: 5,917
  • May 15: 8,612
  • May 16: 7,324
  • May 17: 6,001
  • May 18: 5,229

Four weeks ago, the state's testing capacity was around 8,000. Today, that testing capacity – when all of the testing supplies and reagents are available – is 13,704, according to Terri Dresen, spokesperson of the state's Testing Command Center. 

It begs the question: Why only 5,000 to 9,000 tests per day over the past week?

"People are choosing not to go in to get tested," Dresen said, then echoing the words of other state health officials who are urging anyone with symptoms to get tested: "If you are remotely symptomatic, please go in. This is why we built the capacity." 

The Department of Health has launched a website showing 216 healthcare facilities in Minnesota that offer COVID-19 tests, with the expectation that anyone with symptoms should be provided a test. 

Common symptoms from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Original estimates suggested 20,000 was possible by now

The goal remains reaching a capacity of 20,000 tests per day by June. To be clear: 20,000 is the goal – a "moonshot" goal at that – and not a guarantee. Regardless, it has proved to take longer than originally estimated to hit the goal. 

Dr. Jakup Tolar of the University of Minnesota Medical School was part of the April 22 presentation and said "this should take literally, 2-3 weeks, maybe less."

HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh, also speaking at the conference, put the timeline a little longer at 3-4 weeks, during which the state and its partners said the aim was to build up the logistics required to make getting a test accessible in every corner of the state.

"Speed is an essential ingredient in success. The faster we're going to do this, the better we're going to do," Dr. Tolar added.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Last Friday, Mayo Clinic told Bring Me The News that it has continued to expand capacity dedicated to the state testing initiative. "We can now perform 4,000 molecular COVID-19 tests per day in support of the state’s response," a Mayo spokesperson said. 

Other providers around the state (Allina, HealthPartners, etc.) maximize their internal testing capacity and then send overflow samples to the Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota to complete the testing process. 

Walz said April 22 that if the testing plan was carried out properly and Minnesotans continued to follow social distancing guidelines, Minnesota could find itself headed down a path "that can lower the number of infections, ensure the hospital capacity is there for those that are most vulnerable and give us that path back to start opening more of our society." 

As of today (May 19), the state has a maximum ICU capacity of 2,533 patients. Currently, 1,011 of the 2,533 ICU beds are taken, 229 of them by COVID-19 patients. You can track the state's ICU capacity through the COVID-19 Dashboard, which is updated daily Monday-Friday.  

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 9.55.05 PM

Small plane lands on northbound I-35W in Twin Cities

A large police presence is at the scene.

Plainview

Judge orders Minnesota gym that defied shutdown to close

Attorney General Keith Ellison sued the gym after it remained open.

montana cutbank

Charges: Man shot victim 'without provocation' using sawed-off shotgun

The incident happened on Nov. 24 in Ten Lake Township, located in Beltrami County.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Walz, first responders address Minnesotans

Some departments have been forced to shift staffing or suspend service due to COVID-19.

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC says COVID-19 quarantine period can be cut to 10 or 7 days

You can come out of a 7-day quarantine following exposure provided you've had a negative test.

maple grove fire

1 person found dead inside Maple Grove business that burned down

A person had been unaccounted following the fire that destroyed Hanson Implement and Storage Tuesday night.

One-dollar bill, cash, money

Appeals court rules MN high school students can get unemployment benefits

They've been denied the benefits, and some were even asked to pay them back.

covid-19, coronavirus

Dec. 2 COVID-19 update: 77 more deaths in Minnesota

The death toll is closing in on 3,700 in Minnesota.

City Pages

Fan creates City Pages archive, Star Tribune tells him to remove it

After word spread that the defunct newspaper's website would go down, a fan created his own copy. Then he got a cease and desist letter.

Adam Thielen

Vikings activate Adam Thielen off COVID-19/reserve list

The star receiver missed last week's victory over Carolina.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop is charged for sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.

Related

coronavirus

COVID-19 outbreak brings new daily high for deaths in Minnesota

Anyone with symptoms is urged to go in for a test as soon as possible.

coronavirus, ICU, covid-19 hospital, doctor

Minnesota hits new daily highs for COVID-19 deaths, ICU patients

Anyone with symptoms is urged to get tested as soon as they can.

coronavirus, ICU, COVID-19

Coronavirus: Deaths drop in latest figures, but hospitalizations continue to rise

Anyone with symptoms is urged to get tested as soon as they can.

coronavirus test, covid-19

Deaths from COVID-19 rise again as testing nears 5,000 in 1 day

558 people have died from the disease since March 21 in Minnesota.

coronavirus, COVID-19 test

COVID-19: Minnesota planning rapid testing for young adults

Health officials are in the planning stages of launching a rapid testing option for 18 to 35 year olds.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz sounds COVID-19 alarm, launches massive testing initiative

Despite huge increases in testing, Minnesota's percent positive rate keeps rising.

Screen Shot 2020-04-22 at 3.45.15 PM

Details of Minnesota's plan to conduct 20,000 coronavirus tests a day

Testing totals will being to increase with full capacity reached within weeks.

SARS-CoV-2, novel coronavirus

Minnesota reaches 700 COVID-19 deaths, ICU cases rising

Minnesota has now exceeded 700 deaths from the disease caused by the new coronavirus.