Hospitals: Don't go to emergency room, urgent care for COVID tests

Hospitals across the state are urging Minnesotans not to go to emergency departments or urgent care centers for a COVID-19 test.  

The Minnesota Hospital Association released a statement Friday asking the public to seek COVID-19 testing in settings other than hospital emergency departments after a high number of patients have driven up wait times for medical emergencies at several hospitals recently. 

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The statement reads: 

"We have run out of words to describe what we are undergoing - a crisis does not even come close; hospitals are literally full. 

We urgently need the public’s help to keep our emergency departments available for medical emergencies.   

Please do not go to emergency departments or urgent care centers for a COVID-19 test. Seek testing at one of the many state testing sites or use a home test kit. Please help us keep our emergency department capacity and staff available for medical emergencies. 

The care capacity throughout all of Minnesota is severely limited - ICUs are full, emergency departments are full, medical-surgical units are full, hallways are full, and surgeries are being canceled. Hospitals and health systems are working together in real-time to meet this challenge and coordinate resources. They are essentially now functioning as one giant system of care to support our joint mission of serving all Minnesotans. To continue to serve the high volume of patients that need care for strokes, heart attacks, emergency surgeries, motor vehicle accidents, and COVID-19, we need your help now." 

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Minnesota's seven-day rolling average COVID-19 test positivity rate has spiked to 15.6%--a new high. The Minnesota Department of Health reported over 7,800 new infections on Friday and 33 more deaths. 

There are currently 1,467 people hospitalized with COVID across Minnesota, the latest data shows. There were only two ICU beds available in the Twin Cities metro at last check and 20 statewide.