Coronavirus testing in Minnesota: What you should know

March 9, 2020
First Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in Rice County: What it means for you

MARCH 9, 2020 – As testing for COVID-19 (coronavirus) increases, NH+C follows clear guidelines set by Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for COVID-19 screening and testing.

There are two cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota as of March 8, reports MDH, which tracks testing (updated daily). Eighty people have been tested; 78 tests are negative, as of March 8.

MDH helps providers make the decision whether to test a patient for COVID-19, based on specific criteria. MDH encourages providers to first test patients with symptoms for other respiratory illness like influenza. 

If you have fever, cough and trouble breathing, you may need to be tested for COVID-19 if you have: 

Traveled out of state in last 30 days A fever and rash Fever or cough Fever and vomiting or diarrhea Close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within 14 days of your symptoms Traveled, or had close contact with someone who has traveled (especially travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea) within 14 days of your symptoms Are part of group that’s being monitored after exposure to a confirmed case (such as a cruise passenger) Are a healthcare worker who has cared directly for someone with fever and cough or trouble breathing, or with pneumonia, who test negative for influenza Have been exposed to measles, chicken pox, or shingles (zoster) in the past 30 days

If you have these symptoms, call your clinic and a triage nurse can discuss your symptoms with you and help you decide your best next steps. The triage nurse may screen you over the phone, then consult with MDH to see if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

If you do meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing, NH+C can arrange that. We’ll make those arrangements over the phone with you. If you are tested, you must be isolated at home until test results are complete. You’ll get additional information if the test is positive.

If you don’t meet criteria for COVID-19 testing, you’re still feeling sick – and we’ll do our best to care for you, in the clinic or over the phone. If you are not tested for COVID-19, you should still stay home until you are fever-free (without medication) for 24 hours, and your symptoms have improved.

For patients with specific symptoms, staff will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) recommended by CDC when caring for patients with contagious conditions – gown, face shield, double gloves, hair covering and booties. This does not mean that you have COVID-19, or are even in need of testing.

The test for COVID-19 is a nasal and oral swab. Results may take 24 hours or more. During the wait time, most patients can go home if they have a private bedroom and bathroom, and someone to bring meals so the patient is isolated and not exposed to others, at home or in public. Patients who can’t arrange a private room and meals may need to be hospitalized to keep them isolated.

For patients who test positive, most can recuperate at home in isolation. Those who can’t be isolated – or have severe symptoms – may need to be hospitalized.

How can you stay healthy? Take the same steps you do to prevent the flu: Wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you’re sick.

Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if your hands are not visibly dirty Cover your cough with your sleeve or tissue Disinfect surfaces that may be exposed If you’re sick, stay home. It is important not to go to work or school if you are sick

If you have traveled and are now ill, call your medical provider’s office and tell them the details of your travel and illness before coming to the clinic or Emergency Department (507-646-1100).

Questions about COVID-19? Call the MDH COVID-19 Hotline at 651-201-3920.

If you’re planning to travel, check the CDC’s Travelers’ Health site for specific recommendations on your destination.

Keep up to date on COVID-19 news and prevention: