Evaluating and Testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Evaluating and Testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

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Collecting Specimens
Home Care Instructions

Guidance for evaluating, testing, and reporting COVID-19 in Minnesota.

Updated 5/20/20

Current guidance for testing

This guidance is intended to assist with prioritization of testing and is not intended to limit testing.

Symptomatic People

Symptomatic people across the continuum of care (including hospitalized, long-term and transitional care and ambulatory care) and symptomatic health care workers.

Asymptomatic People in Congregate Settings

Congregate living settings including long term care facilities, shelters, and prisons. Testing should be done according to guidance issued by MDH.

Staff Working in High Risk Settings

Employees working in high risk areas, including those working in hospital/clinic settings where there is direct contact with COVID-19 patients, those working in long-term care facilities, shelter workers, and prison guards. It is likely that some people will need testing on a regular basis because of repeated high-risk exposures in the workplace. If a point-prevalence survey is done in a facility, staff should be included as part of the prioritization for the facility-wide testing. If not testing everyone, prioritize:

  1. Symptomatic staff
  2. Asymptomatic staff ending their quarantine period
  3. Asymptomatic staff who work in a facility that has COVID-19 cases

Cluster Investigations

Cluster investigations where groups of people are associated with a case of COVID-19, even if a direct contact isn't identified. This could include specific workplace-wide or facility-wide clusters implicated to have outbreaks of COVID-19. The testing approach should be done in consultation with MDH.

Asymptomatic People Requiring Medical Care

Examples include: Patients planning to undergo an aerosol-generating procedure (procedure involving the airway or esophagus such as intubation, bronchoscopy, upper esophageal endoscopy, dental procedures, etc.), or patients undergoing other procedures that may be delayed based on testing results (patients undergoing procedures like chemotherapy, cardiac surgery, or other procedures in which COVID-19 infection may worsen outcome) or patients admitted to the hospital.

Asymptomatic Mission-Critical Workers

Public utility workers essential to maintain critical infrastructure if requested by utility.

MDH Public Health Laboratory (PHL) testing priorities

Only send specimens to MDH-PHL for:

  • Symptomatic residents and staff in congregate living settings (long term care facilities, prisons/jails, shelters for people experiencing homelessness, etc.).
  • Symptomatic dialysis patients.
  • Symptomatic patients that cannot be tested at an in-house lab, commercial lab, or through negotiated access to the University of Minnesota or Mayo Clinic labs.

Positive results from MDH will be communicated immediately to the provider. Negative and positive results will be faxed immediately to the submitting laboratory; please do not call us for the results. Results may not be available for up to 3 days. Please inform your patient of the result and do not have them call us for results.

Patients awaiting testing or results

Patients with undiagnosed fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) who are awaiting testing or results should:

  • Self-isolate for 10 days after illness onset and 72 hours after resolution of fever without taking fever-reducing medications, and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer.
  • Isolate themselves from household and intimate contacts as much as possible.

Household and intimate contacts of these individuals should limit their activities in public for 14 days after incorporating precautions in the home, and monitor for symptoms.


Collecting Specimens

  • CDC: Specimen Collection
    Videos on collecting specimens. The page is specific to pertussis, but the specimen collection guidance is universal.

Home Care Instructions

Health care providers should review with their patients the following CDC recommendations for the home care of patients being evaluated for COVID-19 who do not need to be hospitalized.

Please assist patients and household members with accessing personal protective equipment (disposable facemasks and gloves).

Updated Friday, 22-May-2020 09:08:13 CDT