MINNEAPOLIS -- State health officials are forced to make adjustments when it comes to testing for COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Tuesday that due to a national shortage of COVID-19 lab testing materials, testing must be focused differently.

Health care providers are being asked to follow new guidelines including:

  • Hospitals and health care systems should assess whether they can send specimens to a commercial reference laboratory, and determine their own priorities for testing and assess whether these labs have restrictions.
  • Limit sending specimens to the Minnesota Department of Health to those from hospitalized COVID-19 patients. At this time, MDH can also test ill health care workers and ill persons living in congregate settings.
  • Providers should inform all patients with undiagnosed fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), even those not able to be tested, that they should self-quarantine for 7 days after illness onset, or 72 hours after resolution of fever (without taking fever-reducing medications), and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer. Patients should seek care if their symptoms become severe. They should call ahead to health provider when possible.
  • Patients with symptoms who are not able to be tested should 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 the incorporating precautions in the home, and monitor for symptoms.

Governor Tim Walz sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking for an immediate increase in the number of COVID-19 lab test available to Minnesota health care providers.

Anyone who may have suspect or known cases of COVID-19, but who are not severely ill, should stay home while they recover.

A total of 60 cases have been confirmed in Minnesota.

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