Health officials conducting statewide COVID-19 survey of Minnesota households that includes free testing

The Minnesota Department of Health is conducting a voluntary statewide survey over the next two weeks to help officials better understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in the state. The survey will include free COVID-19 testing for all members of participating households. 

Through Sept. 30, teams of public health professionals will be visiting randomly selected households in 180 preselected sites across the state to conduct the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) survey, according to a news release. 

If they agree to participate in the survey, one member of the household will complete a questionnaire. All household members who consent can receive a COVID-19 test to see if they are currently infected with the virus and an antibody test to see they have previously been infected. 

Participants with positive results for either test will be contacted by a nurse to receive additional information. All questionnaire responses and results will be kept private. 

Only households approached by the public health teams are eligible to participate in the survey. 

“We’re going door to door within those sites," said Stephanie Yendell, a Senior Epidemiology Supervisor with MDH. "Anyone in the household that’s seven years and up can participate in the study and we could have some household members participate and some not and that’s absolutely fine." 

Yendell said the randomness allows them to get a better look at how the virus is spreading in the real world and not just among those who seek testing.

“That does allow us to really get that insight into what is happening across all of Minnesota and not just the communities that have the best access to testing and other resources. 

“With the antibody test, it allows us to see what percentage of people have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past and we can compare those results from one region to another region. 

MDH wanted to be sure residents know that anyone coming from the department will have a lot of documentation and will clearly be from MDH. They will not ask for financial information. The survey is voluntary.

Several other states are also conducting COVID-19 CASPER surveys.

Goals of the survey, as outlined by MDH, are to:

  • Understand how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota communities
  • Understand what caused COVID-19 to spread in certain areas
  • Explore how COVID-19 transmission and infection rates differ among regions in Minnesota
  • Identify the percentage of people infected with COVID-19 that have no symptoms
  • Improve health messaging and help stop COVID-19 spread

Minnesota is one of several states COVID-19 CASPER surveys, according to MDH.