ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is updating its recommendations on who needs to get tested for COVID-19, as well as when and how.
“Testing is an important tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19 and we are committed to providing no-barrier access for everyone who needs it,” says MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff. “We don’t want people to be confused by their options - it can be difficult to know which test people should take, and when exactly they should take it. Our updated criteria will help people more quickly determine what’s best for them in their situation.”
MDH’s new recommendations on who should get tested during Dial Back, Minnesota are:
1) Anyone with symptoms should seek out testing immediately.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell. Read more about symptoms of COVID-19 and what you should do if you have symptoms, including information on COVID-19 in other languages at Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Key Messages.
Stay home when you are sick, whether you seek testing or not. If you leave your home to get a test, wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from other people. The COVID-19 Test at Home program may be your best option for getting tested in the comfort of your own home.
Community testing sites are best for people with mild symptoms. If you have moderate to severe symptoms call your doctor or health care provider or go to the hospital.
2) Anyone who was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested.
It is best to get tested at least five days after the last time you were close to the person with COVID-19. If you get tested too soon, the test may not be able to detect the virus.
You will need to stay home for 14 days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19, whether you have symptoms or not. Even with a negative result AND no symptoms, you must still quarantine for 14 days.
The COVID-19 Test at Home program may be your best option for getting tested, particularly if you learn about exposure early in the 14-day window.
If you would prefer to visit a Community Testing Site, make an appointment. If the site nearest you has no available appointments on the day you are looking to get tested, either look at a later date or try finding a testing location a little farther away.
3) Anyone who is still working at places that remain open during Dial Back, Minnesota should get tested. This includes critical infrastructure, first responders, health care, retail, child care, etc.
If you do not have symptoms and you have not been notified of exposure, you are still at risk given how quickly the virus is spreading.
Make a plan to get tested at least once before December 18, 2020. If possible, get tested once near the beginning of the four-week period and once again near the end of the four-week period.
We urge you to make an appointment at a Community Testing Site. Plan ahead to find an available appointment, even if that includes looking at a testing location a little farther away.
The COVID-19 Test at Home program may also be a good option for those getting tested as part of a screening strategy.
“We talk regularly about health care workers as our front-line heroes, but that label also applies to our child care workers, retail and grocery store workers, public safety, and others working to keep our critical infrastructure up and running,” says Huff. “We need them, along with anyone with symptoms or who was exposed to someone who tested positive, to continue having access to reliable and quick testing.”
For more information on the new testing guidelines, click here.