CASPER: COVID-19 Public Health Survey - Minnesota Dept. of Health

CASPER: COVID-19 Public Health Survey

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is doing a voluntary, in-person survey to understand the effect COVID-19 is having on Minnesota communities. The survey is called a modified Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, or CASPER survey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed CASPER as an evidence-based tool to assess community needs. They have been used before to collect household information during public health emergencies such as hurricanes, oil spills, and the Zika virus outbreak. Several other states are also conducting COVID-19 CASPERs.

Information learned from the survey will help public health workers, and others who are part of the COVID-19 response, make decisions that best meet the needs of each community affected by COVID-19. Through the CASPER survey, we hope to:

  • Understand how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota communities.
  • Understand what caused COVID-19 to spread in certain areas.
  • Explore how COVID-19 transmission and infection rates differ among regions in Minnesota.
  • Identify the percentage of people infected with COVID-19 that have no symptoms.
  • Improve health messaging and help stop COVID-19 spread.

No one is required to participate in the survey. Participation is voluntary, and you can stop at any point during the survey. If you don't participate in all parts of the survey, the information you do provide will still be included in survey results unless you tell the survey staff you do not want it included. If you tell the survey staff you do not want your information included, answers and test results will not be included in the final study.

The survey is funded through COVID-19 Relief Funds approved by the Minnesota legislature to conduct this survey and other studies.

Why participate

  • Free COVID-19 tests. You and the people you live with get free COVID-19 tests and learn if you had, or currently have, COVID-19.
  • Add to what is known about COVID-19. Your information can lead to better understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading across Minnesota.
  • Help stop the spread of COVID-19. By answering a few questions, you help the health department understand how to improve our safety messaging. Together, we can help stop the pandemic.
  • Make your concerns heard. You can talk to the public health worker about how COVID-19 has affected you and your family as well as any concerns you have about the disease.

What to expect

MDH CASPER teams plan to survey six regions across the state. Households included in the survey were chosen at random to make sure the survey represents the general population of Minnesota.

COVID-19 Survey TeamTeam members are public health workers. Survey teams will be wearing masks when first knocking on the door as well as vests with name tags that identify them as members of an MDH CASPER team. Their vehicles will have magnets on the side that say, "COVID-19 Survey Team." Over the month of September, survey teams will visit neighborhoods and ring the doorbells of houses to ask them to participate in a survey. Households will not be notified in advance.

Each team has a health care professional hired by MDH and trained to do two different COVID-19 tests:

  • A nasal swab test: a nurse puts a swab into your nose for a few seconds and rotates it a little. This is done on both sides of the nose. This test is to see if you have COVID-19 now.
  • A serology test (blood test): a nurse pricks your finger to take a few drops of blood. This test is done to see if you already had COVID-19.

Team members will ask each household to complete one survey. Each person in the household will be asked for their permission to do a blood and nasal swab test. Anyone may refuse one or both of the tests.

The MDH lab will analyze the COVID-19 tests. A health care professional will send results to you in a text message if your tests are negative. If either of your test results is positive, a health care professional will call you with your results and give you more information. Information is available in languages other than English.

Why it is important

A modified CASPER survey quickly gives people working on the COVID-19 response in Minnesota important information about the health needs of a community. Information sent to the right people, at the right place, at the right time, is key to making decisions and responding successfully.

Survey results will provide information to:

  • Survey participants about their COVID-19 infection status.
  • MDH and local public health leadership to help them understand the spread of COVID-19 and guide prevention efforts.
  • The Governor's office to provide context for making decisions.
  • The MDH and University of Minnesota modeling team to help with COVID-19 modeling efforts.
  • Media to educate the public on COVID-19 impacts in Minnesota.


All health information collected during the survey will remain confidential. Positive test results will be shared with the health department case investigation team. See Tracing COVID-19: How COVID-19 tracing works to learn more about what this team will do.

More information

Updated Monday, 21-Sep-2020 14:19:03 CDT