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MN health workers conducting COVID-19 survey 'confronted by armed individuals'

Few details about the confrontation have been provided.

Members of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) are in the process of conducting community surveys to better understand how COVID-19 is spreading in Minnesota, and during the first week of the operation MDH employees were approached by people with guns. 

The MDH is not saying where the confrontation took place, but it happened earlier this week, as the community assessments began Monday, Sept. 14. 

"It was reported to us that during one of these visits, a team was confronted by armed individuals. This may have been the result of misunderstanding, but the team did the right thing by leaving and notifying their study site coordinator of the situation," MDH spokesperson Doug Schultz told Bring Me The News in an email. 

It's unclear how many people were armed, nor is it clear what type of weapons they had. 

"Most interactions have been productive as our teams do this public health work designed to learn more about the true extent of COVID-19 in our state, and we continue to focus on ensuring the health and safety of workers and community members," Schultz said. MDH is working with our many partners in local public health and safety to support public health employees who are working hard to protect Minnesotans."

The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) survey will continue it through Sept. 30. The survey is voluntary and includes a household questionnaire and free virus and antibody testing for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID-19. 

There are five main goals of this survey: 

  • Understand how COVID-19 has spread
  • Understand what causes COVID-19 to spread in certain areas
  • Explore how COVID-19 transmission and infection rates differ in parts of MN
  • Identify the percentage of asymptomatic people in MN
  • Improve health messaging and help stop COVID-19's spread

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What to expect if MDH approaches your household

Teams of health professionals who will be wearing facemasks, vests and badges identifying them as the MDH COVID-19 Survey Team will visit randomly selected homes in 180 preselected areas, based on census blocks, around the state.

They'll ask if the household wants to participate in the survey. If they agree, one member of the household will fill out a questionnaire and everyone who lives there, if they consent, can get tested to see if they currently have the virus (a swab test) and/or for antibodies to see if they already had the virus (a finger stick).

Each household's survey and test results are kept private, and if anyone tests positive on either test they'll be notified by a nurse, who will provide more information.

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