January 21, 2021
Updated state testing guidance focuses on children, college students
As students of all ages return to classrooms, state implores more testing
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) today updated its COVID-19 testing recommendations, focused primarily on young Minnesotans returning to schools, youth sports, and extracurricular activities - especially those ages 12-25.
The new guidance comes as students across the state begin returning to the classroom and extracurricular activities following Governor Walz’s loosening of restrictions on certain activities and sectors of the economy.
The recommendations expand the category of people who should get tested to include students returning to school, youth sports, or extracurricular activities; college and trade school students returning to campus or classes; and anyone who regularly interacts with people outside of their family unit or household. This is in addition to anyone with symptoms, anyone who was exposed to someone who tested positive, or anyone who is working at places that remain open during the pandemic, such as critical infrastructure, first responders, health care, retail, schools, and child care.
“Testing remains one of the most powerful tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Huff. “We’ve worked tremendously hard and Minnesotans have made a lot of sacrifices to get students back to their classrooms, sports, and extracurricular activities. Active testing by children, college and trade school students, and those who regularly engage with folks outside of their household—like our teachers—will protect our progress and mitigate the spread of the virus.”
The expanded recommendations complement the increase in testing focused on educators and staff. Early this month, Governor Walz announced that the state would provide training and saliva test kits so that all schools providing in-person or hybrid learning can offer on-site testing to all staff who interact with students. While testing is not required for K-12 teachers or staff, it is required for schools to offer the testing every other week. Since the testing program began, more than 17,000 staff have been tested, with a 0.36% positivity.
Huff emphasized that due to the extremely limited supply of vaccines that the federal government has made available to Minnesota, testing remains a vital tactic for slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Even as we begin vaccinating Minnesotans the amount of vaccine that we have received from the federal government is minimal compared to our need,” said Huff. “And just this week we passed 6,000 deaths here in Minnesota. That’s 6,000 lives cut short by this virus. It’s a grim reminder that the pandemic isn’t over and that far too many of our neighbors are still impacted. We must remain vigilant and follow the safety guidelines of masking, social distancing, staying at home if sick, and getting tested.”
Minnesota has an extensive statewide testing operation. Residents have several ways in which they can access no-barrier testing, including more than 20 community testing sites, a mail-order at-home test program, and clinics and hospitals across the state. Tests remain no-cost to the individual but they are asked to provide their insurance information so the state can seek reimbursement from insurance companies.
Read more at Who should get tested?
For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504.
Mental Health Crisis Line - Call: **CRISIS (**274747)