COVID-19 Test Reporting Requirements - Minnesota Dept. of Health
CDC's new COVID-19 by County community level recommendations do not apply in health care settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Instead, health care settings should continue to use CDC's COVID Data Tracker community transmission rates and continue to follow CDC and MDH's infection prevention and control recommendations for health care settings.

COVID-19 Test Reporting Requirements

On this page:
About COVID-19 test reporting
COVID-19 test reporting changes, effective April 4, 2022
How to submit COVID-19 test results
    Organizations with electronic laboratory reporting
    Federally certified nursing facilities
    All other organizations submitting test results to MDH
Reporting positive test results
More resources

NOTE: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated their COVID-19 test result reporting requirements. The Minnesota Department of Health will adopt the same requirements starting on April 4, 2022, the date the federal changes take effect. For more information, please review COVID-19 test reporting changes, effective April 4, 2022 below.

About COVID-19 test reporting

Reporting COVID-19 test results is one way partner organizations help the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and HHS 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, K-12 schools, medical laboratories, and hospitals. This page summarizes state and federal COVID-19 test result reporting requirements and offers resources for sites performing testing, some of which may have limited experience reporting test results.

Minnesota law also imposes requirements for reporting known or suspected cases of COVID-19, which are separate from the COVID-19 test result reporting requirements discussed on this page. Learn more at Reporting an Infectious Disease. Self-administered home use tests (not including self-collected specimens where the test is performed at a laboratory) and antibody (serology) results are not reportable to MDH through laboratory or case reporting requirements. For more information on self-testing, refer to COVID-19 Self-testing.

COVID-19 test reporting changes, effective April 4, 2022

HHS updated their COVID-19 test result reporting requirements. MDH will adopt the same requirements and post updated reporting templates and guidance on April 4, 2022, the date the federal changes take effect. NOTE: Until April 4, 2022, organizations must continue to report test results and related information according to the applicable guidance, reporting system, and templates in How to submit COVID-19 test results below.

Reporting requirements are based on (1) the type of COVID-19 test and (2) the organization's Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification type. Later sections of this page provide more information about CLIA certification and different types of COVID-19 tests. The following summary identifies some of the key reporting requirements that begin on April 4, 2022:

  • Facilities operating under a CLIA certification performing moderate- to high-complexity tests must continue reporting all Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) results—including positive, negative, and inconclusive.
    • Reporting to MDH is not required for non-positive results from non-NAAT.
  • Facilities operating under a CLIA certificate of waiver or under the MDH Statewide CLIA Certificate of Waiver are only required to report positive results on NAAT and non-NAAT. Negative or inconclusive result reporting is not required.
  • Facilities operating under any CLIA certification or certificate of waiver must continue to report  within 24 hours after receiving the test result.
  • Certain information is  no longer required with laboratory reporting. This includes laboratory "ask-on-order-entry" questions, such as "patient's first test" and "whether patient was admitted to intensive care unit."
  • Reporting of antibody or serology test results – including positive, negative, or inconclusive – is not required.
  • Self-administered home use tests are not reportable to MDH (not including self-collected specimens where the test is performed at a laboratory). For more information on self-administered home use tests, refer to COVID-19 Self-Testing.

For a detailed description of reporting requirements and changes taking effect April 4, 2022, refer to COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Laboratory Data Reporting: CARES Act Section 18115 and CDC Lab Advisory: HHS Updates COVID-19 Laboratory Reporting Guidance.

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Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) include PCR and tests that involve "isothermal amplification." For more information, refer to CDC: Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs). These tests include Abbott ID Now and Cue.

Non-NAATs include antigen tests such as BinaxNOW, BD Veritor, and Quidel Sofia. For more information, refer to CDC: Guidance for Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2 for Healthcare Providers Testing Individuals in the Community.

In general, any organization that administers a COVID-19 test onsite or interprets or processes results from test specimen must have a CLIA certification or certification of waiver. CLIA certificates of waiver provide non-laboratory settings—like workplaces, schools, child care, and congregate-living environments—an option to offer and administer certain COVID-19 tests, which are typically simple and easy to perform without specialized equipment or a medical or laboratory background. MDH has also obtained a statewide CLIA certificate of waiver that certain authorized settings may use to operate a testing location. Most tests authorized for use under a certificate of waiver are antigen tests, though certain NAATs—such as Cue—may also be performed under a certificate of waiver. More complex tests generally require a higher-level CLIA laboratory certification.

For more information about CLIA certification and the statewide MDH certificate of waiver, refer to:

You can use the search tool below to determine the CLIA certification for your facility or setting.

  1. Go to CDC: CLIA Laboratory Search.
  2. Enter in your facility name or CLIA number if you know it. For Minnesota facilities, CLIA numbers will start with "24D."
    • If you are having trouble finding your name, choose "show" next to Advanced Search and add in additional search criteria with the Laboratory name and CLIA number empty.
  3. Select Search.

Review the facility or facilities that are returned to identify the correct site(s). The column "Certificate Type" indicates the facility's level of CLIA certification (e.g., certificate of waiver, accredited).

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. Federal and state law protect the privacy of individually identifiable COVID-19 testing data. Absent consent or specific legal authorization, MDH cannot disclose data that federal or state law designates as "not public." HHS is an example of an organization that may be authorized to receive testing data.

On a national level, summary data (i.e., data that does not include individually identifying information) is also shared with CDC to develop knowledge and guidance regarding COVID-19, transmission rates, and testing.

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 reportable 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.

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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 (NHSN) 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 NHSN 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 directly to MDH until you get level 3 access.

All other organizations submitting test results to MDH

Many other organizations have on-site COVID-19 testing programs, such as schools or congregate living facilities that offer testing to residents, students, and staff. Many of these sites operate under a CLIA certificate of waiver and may lack experience with COVID-19 result reporting. This section provides guidance and links to resources, which are intended to create a simple and easy-to-follow reporting process.

Within 24 hours of receiving a test result, a reporting organization must complete the correct MDH COVID-19 Test Results Reporting Spreadsheet provided below and submit the completed spreadsheet to MDH RePortal (additional information below). Do not send test results to MDH via email.

Follow these steps to submit COVID-19 test results:

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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. You may contact health.ElectronicDiseaseReporting@state.mn.us with questions, but 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 will need this information to select and fill out the applicable 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 All other organizations submitting test results to MDH.

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 for All other organizations submitting test results to MDH 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.

You can use the below search tool to determine the CLIA certification and number for your facility or setting.

  1. Go to CDC: CLIA Laboratory Search.
  2. Enter in your facility name or CLIA number if you know it. For Minnesota facilities, CLIA numbers will start with "24D."
    • If you are having trouble finding your name, choose "show" next to Advanced Search and add in additional search criteria with the Laboratory name and CLIA number empty.
  3. Select Search.

Review the facility or facilities that are returned to identify the correct site(s). The column "Certificate Type" indicates the facility's level of CLIA certification (e.g., certificate of waiver, accredited).

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.

Reporting positive test results

Minnesota law also imposes requirements for reporting known or suspected cases of COVID-19, which are separate from the COVID-19 test result reporting requirements discussed on this page. Follow the instructions on Reporting COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 Infections.

Self-administered home use tests (not including self-collected specimens where the test is performed at a laboratory) and antibody (serology) findings are not reportable to MDH through laboratory or case reporting requirements. For more information on self-testing, refer to COVID-19 Self-Testing.

More resources

Updated Tuesday, 28-Jun-2022 08:37:36 CDT