COVID-19 Test Reporting Requirements - Minnesota Dept. of Health
As we learn more about COVID-19, recommendations and guidance are updated frequently. Please check back often.

COVID-19 Test Reporting Requirements

On this page:
About COVID-19 test reporting
How to submit COVID-19 test results
    Organizations with electronic laboratory reporting
    Federally certified nursing facilities
    Organizations unfamiliar with submitting test results to MDH
Reporting positive results
More resources

NOTE: MDH has transitioned to a new platform for uploading COVID-19 test reports. Partner organizations should be uploading COVID-19 test results to MDH RePortal. Please contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us if you have not received information about this transition.

About COVID-19 test reporting

Reporting COVID-19 test results is one way partner organizations help the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) identify and slow the spread of COVID-19. Partners that help test and then report the test results to MDH include long-term care settings, colleges and universities, medical laboratories, and hospitals. Their experience with submitting test results ranges from none to reporting regularly.

Every test taken by people in Minnesota to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 must be reported to MDH. This includes all negative, undetermined, and positive results. All sites that test for the virus must report test results within 24 hours after the test is completed. Resources and information on this webpage are intended to help organizations collect and report these test results to MDH.

The public health response to COVID-19 depends on comprehensive laboratory testing data. These data will contribute to understanding COVID-19’s impact and testing coverage and can contribute to the identification of supply chain issues for reagents and other materials.

Reporting cases of infectious diseases is a vital step in controlling and preventing the spread of disease. By law, several infectious diseases must be reported to MDH, along with certain information about the patient and the person reporting the disease. Learn more about Reporting an Infectious Disease.

Expand All   Contract All

Demographic information helps the state and partners understand where COVID-19 is present and how it may be spreading. This information also helps with better contact tracing, assessing testing resources, directing supplies, and developing guidance.

Demographic information is included in what to report under federal guidance (CDC: How to Report COVID-19 Laboratory Data: What to report) and is required by Minnesota law when reporting an infectious disease (Communicable Disease Reporting Rule).

Test data reported to health departments is used to help track the spread of COVID-19 and identify areas that are highly impacted by the disease. The data will also be used to track the spread of disease by location.

On a national level, the data is shared with the CDC, without information that identifies people, to contribute to understanding of how many people have COVID-19, how common it is by state, and where testing is happening. It also helps identify where resources and materials should be directed.

How to submit COVID-19 test results

Organizations with electronic laboratory reporting
For organizations that can create and submit Health Level 7 International (HL7) electronic laboratory reports.

Some partners have a laboratory information system/laboratory information management system that can create messages that meet Health Level 7 International (HL7) standards for sending health information from one health organization to another. All COVID-19 test results must be sent to MDH within 24 hours.

Laboratories registered for the federal Promoting Interoperability Program that want to submit data electronically through their laboratory information system should review guidance at MDH Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) and Meaningful Use. Contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us to start the electronic laboratory reporting process.

Facilities that do not meet Promoting Interoperability Program requirements, but have the ability to report results using HL7 standards should review the Minnesota Electronic Laboratory Reporting HL7 2.5.1 Implementation Guide (PDF), and contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us to ask to start the process.

Expand All   Contract All

Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a not-for-profit agency that develops standards for electronic health information. To streamline how data is processed, MDH works with facilities so they submit data in an organized way. HL7 is one of the international organizations that creates and supports standards for submitting consistent data using electronic laboratory reporting.

Learn more about HHS: Proposed HHS ELR Submission Guidance when using HL7 v2 Messages.

Facilities that do not meet the requirements for the Promoting Interoperability Program (formerly called Meaningful Use), but have the ability to report using HL7 standards should review the Minnesota Electronic Laboratory Reporting HL7 2.5.1 Implementation Guide (PDF) and contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us to ask about starting the process.

Federally certified nursing facilities
For long-term care facilities that are federally certified nursing settings and that report directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Federally certified nursing facilities can report results of COVID-19 tests done at the point of care using the CDC: National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) Long-term Care Facility (LTCF) COVID-19 Module. This secure online reporting system for long-term care facilities is part of the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network infection tracking system. Test results must be submitted within 24 hours of being completed; results are shared with MDH.

  • Facilities must first enroll with the national network to submit test results for residents and facility personnel. More information is available in the CDC: NHSN 5-Step Enrollment for Long-term Care Facilities. Facilities that are enrolled already should not enroll again when starting to report results of tests done at the point of care.
  • Federally certified nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities that wish to report test results done at the point of care to the National Healthcare Safety Network but have access only to the COVID-19 Module’s Secure Access Management Service (SAMS) grid card need to upgrade their SAMS access from level 1 to level 3:
  • If you are waiting for level 3 security to submit test results to CDC, contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us about submitting test results until you get level 3 access.

Organizations unfamiliar with submitting test results to MDH
For organizations unfamiliar with submitting test results or that test for the virus at the point of care and want to submit results.

Many organizations are doing COVID-19 testing on-site or at a facility for residents, students, or staff. Submitting test results to MDH may be new or less familiar to some. If your site is doing this testing, including tests done at the point of care, you must submit all results to MDH within 24 hours of being completed.

You must use the correct MDH COVID-19 Test Results Reporting Spreadsheet provided below and submit completed templates only via MDH RePortal (information below). Do not send test results to MDH via email.

Follow these steps to submit COVID-19 test results:

Expand All   Contract All

Submit completed test results through MDH RePortal. MDH RePortal is a secure web application that lets you upload CSV or XLSX files to fulfill reporting requirements to MDH. Visit Uploading Lab Results to MDH RePortal for more information on submitting test results. Contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us with questions. DO NOT email test results to MDH.

If a test report submitted through MDH RePortal has a mistake, follow the COVID-19 MDH RePortal Instructions (PDF) for submitting corrected COVID-19 test results.

  • You should be able to identify the manufacturer and the type of test from the package insert. You need this information to fill out the MDH test reporting spreadsheet.
  • Download the CDC “LIVD SARS-CoV-2 Test Codes.xlsx” Excel spreadsheet from CDC: LOINC In Vitro Diagnostic (LIVD) Test Code Mapping for SARS-CoV-2 Tests.
  • Open the tab labeled, “LOINC Mapping.”
  • Find the correct manufacturer name in Column A and the model of the test in Column B. Follow that row across to Column F, Performed LOINC CODE. Enter the code from Column F into the MDH spreadsheet, Column AC, test_performed_code.
  • Follow the MDH Instructions for Reporting COVID-19 Test Results, which provides step-by-step details on the information needed from CDC and where to put it in the general MDH COVID-19 Test Results Spreadsheet.

MDH has a general spreadsheet to report testing that lets you fill in all the needed information manually. Follow the MDH instructions for Reporting COVID-19 Test Results to get the data needed from CDC.

Data to enter on the MDH COVID-19 Test Results Reporting File Template is listed on the CDC site (CDC: COVID-19: Reporting Lab Data: What to report) by what must be reported and what should be reported.

The MDH COVID-19 spreadsheet instructions define fields that must contain data.

  • R = Required. R column fields may be marked in yellow and must always contain data.
  • RE = Required if data exists. RE field names are marked in pale blue. If the data is available, it must be sent. If the data is unavailable or does not apply, the field can be left blank.

Certain information is required for COVID-19 testing, such as the test date, specimen type, person’s name, etc., and must be reported on the MDH spreadsheet. Other information should be collected if possible, such as phone number, ZIP code, sex, language, etc. This other information helps MDH and partners in several ways: tracking where COVID-19 testing is taking place; tracking follow-up with people who test positive; and helping to find inequities to better deliver services and resources.

MDH RePortal identifies when test reports are missing required data prior to submission. Users must include all required data in test reports for successful data submission.

No. Test results contain private and protected information and cannot be sent securely via email.

Flat files are data files in either XLSX (Excel) format or plain text CSV (comma separated values) format. XLSX files hold all formatting and content, including column and row information. CSV files contain only the values that plug into a spreadsheet, separated by commas. Flat files are used by organizations that are unable to transmit their data using HL7 electronic laboratory reporting or are working towards electronic transmissions but still want to send reports electronically.

Flat file data do not meet Promoting Interoperability Program requirements (formerly called Meaningful Use). Minnesota will accept COVID-19 test results created with one of the MDH Excel spreadsheet templates found under “Organizations unfamiliar with submitting test results” on this webpage.

A Minnesota-specific flat file, or spreadsheet, is the same for all types of lab testing. However, a few variations are available to make them easier to use. For sites unfamiliar with submitting test results to MDH please follow the information above for “Organizations unfamiliar with submitting test results” to find the correct spreadsheet and instructions.

Contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us to learn how to submit test results reported on a nonstandard template.

No. Do not delete columns for data that you do not collect, because this makes it hard to process the data.

The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) established federal standards for all U.S. facilities or sites that test human specimens to diagnose, prevent, or treat disease. Facilities and sites can submit reports using a laboratory information system if the sites meet CLIA standards and they have a CLIA number to show they meet laboratory practices to test human specimens, or if they have a waiver.

If you are unable to submit a flat file (or spreadsheet) of COVID-19 test results, contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us to discuss your options.

COVID-19 test results from Cue tests distributed by the State of Minnesota should follow instructions at Cue COVID-19 Test. If Cue tests were not distributed by the State of Minnesota, follow the instructions in Organizations unfamiliar with submitting test results to MDH.

Reporting positive results

My organization got a positive test result, but we did not process the test. Do I still need to report it?

Yes. If your facility sent specimens out for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or antigen testing, then your facility should fill out a case report form. Follow the instructions on Reporting COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 Infections.

Both the facility performing the testing and ordering the testing are required to report positive findings.

More resources

Updated Monday, 29-Nov-2021 16:45:01 CST