Minnesota to restrict COVID-19 testing to specific patients amid kit shortage

Minnesota health leaders have been asking the federal government for more testing capacity.
Doctor lab test

The Minnesota Department of Health will be limiting COVID-19 tests to patients in certain circumstances due to a national shortage of testing kits.

The MDH announced Monday that it's being forced to make adjustments to the testing criteria "to focus on the highest priority specimens," amid a dearth in available testing kits nationwide.

"We need to be focusing on testing those individuals for whom the positive test will make a significant difference either in their care for our healthcare system," MDH director of infectious diseases Kris Ehresmann said Tuesday.

Tests for COVID-19 will be restricted to: 

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Healthcare workers
  • Those in "congregate living settings" such as long-term care.

"It would be lovely if we could know everyone that has COVID-19," Ehresmann added. "In reality, for individuals in an outpatient setting, a positive diagnostic test does not make a difference either in their care or their recommended treatment."

This comes just days after Gov. Tim Walz had made a plea to Vice President Mike Pence for more testing kits and lab supplies, saying that the state has been forced to ration what equipment it has.

Minnesota saw its confirmed COVID-19 cases rise to 60 on Tuesday, the smallest increase seen since last Wednesday.

Ehresmann said on Monday that the total number of coronavirus patients in the state is likely higher given that there is not the capacity to test anyone with "mild" symptoms that can be managed at home. These patients are instead just being told to isolate to limit the spread to others.

The message about testing restrictions has been sent out to healthcare providers across the state.

Providers have been told all patients with an undiagnosed fever or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) should self-quarantine for 7 days after the onset of illness, or until 72 hours after the respiratory symptoms have gone, or the fever is resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"Patients with symptoms who are not able to be tested should isolate themselves from household and intimate contacts as much as possible," MDH adds. 

"Household and intimate contacts of these individuals should limit their activities in public for 14 days after the incorporating precautions in the home, and monitor for symptoms."

Ehresmann has said that the department's "aspirational goal" is to give everyone the chance for testing, but that it's not yet possible.

"It's not just a question of having facilities to do the tests and setting up that infrastructure. It's also the challenge of having laboratory capacity. That continues to be an issue."

"There is a global demand for these reagents," said Ehresmann, referring to the substance used in testing to detect the virus. "It's not just the U.S., Europe and all over the world need the same reagents to be able to do the testing. That is what the challenge is."

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 3.17.49 PM

No KAT? No D'Lo? No problem as Timberwolves defeat Pelicans

The Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, but still picked up a (SCORE) win.

Screen Shot 2021-01-23 at 7.53.44 PM

Spinouts, crashes across Twin Cities as snow gets heavier

There have been multiple incidents across the metro area.

Mason Branstrator

Family, friends raising funds for teen soccer standout with spinal injury

Mason Branstrator of Duluth was injured in a skiing accident.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Tributes pour in after MN Supreme Court justice's daughter found dead

Olivia Chutich died near the campus of Iowa State University.

Image from iOS (96)

Early Saturday fire damages Burger King in Richfield

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher Basketball

Maryland hands Gophers first home loss of season

The 17th-ranked Gophers fell to the Terrapins 63-49 on Saturday afternoon.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville.

Minnesota Department of Health files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery

The Lakeville bar has been in the news for defying orders.

Iron Tap snowmobile delivery

This MN restaurant will deliver to your ice house... on a snowmobile

Just in case you work up an appetite fishing on Lake Waconia.

Klobuchar and Trump

Klobuchar reacts to report Trump plotted against his attorney general

The NYT story alleges further tactics to overturn the election.



M Health Fairview closes drive-up COVID-19 testing centers

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

coronavirus, covid-19

First COVID-19 saliva testing site in Minnesota opens Wednesday

It's in Duluth, and comes amid a wider effort to make saliva tests more available.


Minnesota offering free COVID-19 tests at 6 places this weekend

The testing sites have the capacity to test 6,000 people this weekend.

Screen Shot 2020-08-25 at 11.23.26 AM

Gov. Walz announces plan to create COVID-19 saliva testing lab in MN

It's hoped the lab will double the state's testing capacity, including the potential for home testing.


MN health officials criticize CDC change to COVID-19 testing guidelines

The MDH wants asymptomatic people who may have been exposed to get tested.

Minnesota does not yet have a working testing kit for coronavirus

Only five states have a working test for the spreading virus, and Minnesota isn't one of them.

Doctor lab test

MN's 2nd coronavirus patient may've been in contact with 20 others

Health officials have provided another update Monday afternoon.


Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota reaches 60

The number of confirmed cases continues to climb in Minnesota.