ST. PAUL, MN -- Due to a national shortage of COVID-19 lab testing materials, the state announced Tuesday its making adjustments to its testing critera.
The Department of Health says it will now focus on the highest priority specimens, including hospitalized patients. Health care workers and those in congregate living settings such as long-term care will also be given high priority.
•Hospitals and health care systems should assess whether they can send specimens to a commercial reference laboratory, and determine their own priorities for testing and assess whether these labs have restrictions.
•Limit sending specimens to the Minnesota Department of Health to those from hospitalized COVID-19 patients. At this time, MDH can also test ill health care workers and ill persons living in congregate settings.
•Providers should inform all patients with undiagnosed fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), even those not able to be tested, that they should self-quarantine for 7 days after illness onset, or 72 hours after resolution of fever (without taking fever-reducing medications), and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer. Patients should seek care if their symptoms become severe. They should call ahead to health provider when possible.
•Patients with symptoms who are not able to be tested should isolate themselves from household and intimate contacts as much as possible. 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.
People who have suspect or known cases of COVID-19, but who are not severely ill, should stay home while they recover, health officials said. If they have severe underlying health conditions or are older adults should contact their health care provider to see if they have additional recommendations for them.
If someone develops severe symptoms they should call ahead to their health care provider if possible prior to seeking care, health officials said.
Governor Tim Walz sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence last week calling for an immediate increase in the number of COVID-19 laboratory tests available to Minnesota health care providers.
MDH has set up a COVID-19 public hotline that is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hotline number is 651-201-3920.