MDH: Anyone working during Minnesota's 4-week pause should get tested for COVID-19

Minnesota health officials released new COVID-19 testing guidelines as the state starts a new dial-back period, urging anyone who working at places that are still open to the public during this time to get tested. 

Gov. Tim Walz is imposing a four-week shutdown of bars and restaurants, gyms and fitness centers and pausing sports as the state struggles to fight COVID-19 and prevent a crisis in hospitals. The four-week dial-back period begins at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Ahead of the shutdown, the Minnesota Department of Health issued new recommendations on who needs to be tested for COVID-19, when to be tested and which option may be best. Health officials say the testing criteria will help people evaluate when it is necessary to receive a test and help ensure those getting tested have the fastest turnaround time possible.

There are now a number of options for COVID-19 testing in Minnesota, including 20 longer-term community testing sites offering nasal and saliva testing, a mail-order program and clinics and hospitals across the state. 

According to the new testing guidelines, anyone who has symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested as well as anyone who is still working at places that remain open during the four-week dial-back period, such as health care workers, retail and grocery store workers, first responders and child care workers. 

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Health officials say those workers should make a plan to get tested at least once before the dial-back period ends on Dec. 18. If possible, they should get tested once near the beginning of the four-week period and once again near the end of the four-week period.

“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,” Assistant Health Commissioner Dan Huff said in a news release. “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.”

Who should get tested during the 4-week dial back period 

  • Anyone with symptoms should seek out testing immediately
  • Anyone who was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested
  • Anyone who is still working at places that remain open during the four-week shutdown should get tested. This includes critical infrastructure, first responders, health care, retail, child care, etc.