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Who should be tested for COVID-19 during Minnesota’s ‘Dial Back’ period? MDH releases new criteria

COVID-19 closures
Courtesy: State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- State health officials have updated their recommendations for when Minnesotans should get tested for COVID-19 amid a recent surge in cases and new restrictions from the governor.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m., a number of new restrictions will be implemented as part of the state's effort to turn the dial back to slow the spread of COVID-19. These new restrictions include closing the state's gyms and fitness centers, restricting social gatherings to member's of one's own household and making restaurants and bars takeout and delivery only.

According to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Health on Friday, the goal of releasing the updated testing recommendations is to help people evaluate when and how they should be tested.

“Testing is an important tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19 and we are committed to providing no-barrier access for everyone who needs it,” MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said in the news release. “We don’t want people to be confused by their options - it can be difficult to know which test people should take, and when exactly they should take it. Our updated criteria will help people more quickly determine what’s best for them in their situation.”

Minnesota has a number of different testing options, including community testing sites that offer nasal and saliva testing, a mail-order program and hospitals and clinics.

During this time, MDH is recommending the following people should be tested for COVID-19:

  • Anyone with symptoms -- MDH recommends that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 get tested immediately. Individuals can use the COVID-19 at-home test program or be tested at a community testing site.
  • Anyone who was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 -- MDH recommends that individuals who were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 get tested at least five days after their last exposure to the person. If someone is tested too soon, the virus may not be detected in the test. Health officials said you must quarantine for 14 days even if they do not have symptoms and test negative.
  • Anyone who is still working at places that remain open during "dial back" -- MDH said due to the level of virus spread in the state, anyone still working at places that remain open should be tested at least once before Dec. 18. The Department recommends individuals get tested once near the beginning of the four-week period and once near the end.

Huff said during the four-week period of restrictions, it's important to prioritize those who work in industries that remain open.

“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,” Huff said. “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.”

MDH said it is also recommending people make an appointment to be tested and only use the walk-in option if they need a test that day, to avoid long lines and reduce the potential unsafe in-person gatherings.

Find more information about testing here.

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Nicole Valinote

Social Media and Digital Content Manager

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