'Take the sample': Minnesota to open COVID-19 testing to all symptomatic patients

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and state health leaders announced a deal with the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic to reach the goal of 20,000 COVID-19 tests a day within the coming weeks.

Department of Health Commissioner Jam Malcolm says the plan is to test all symptomatic patients. Due to a test shortage, health care systems across the state have been prioritizing tests for health care workers, patients in the hospital and those in long-term care facilities or congregate living.

Malcolm says those priorities are changing.

"That’s part of what we’re trying to do is tell people who’ve been saying, 'I can’t take your test because I can’t guarantee the back-end,' that we are now saying take the sample, the system will get it processed - and that's a big, big difference," said Malcolm.


HealthPartners President and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Walsh says it will take time for the system to "operationalize" and expand the capacity to return to drive-through testing.

“Will it be there tomorrow? No. Will it be there in the coming days and weeks? It will," said Walsh.

Malcolm says the goal is for those with COVID-19 symptoms to be able to get tested at their regular source of care.

Those with symptoms are asked to call ahead so that staff can be prepared.

"If you have symptoms of COVID, instead of popping in some place, just driving by, we want an outreach and we are setting up the ability to do some triage," said Walsh.


Malcolm says the state is building a website that will show where all of the testing locations are. The site will have a call-in capability so people can call receive assistance on where they can get tested.

“Absolutely, that’s our goal to get people who can't get it where they normally would can be directed where they can get it - same day,” said Malcolm.