Breakthrough for rapid, widespread testing of COVID-19
Governor Tim Walz, representatives of the state’s healthcare delivery systems, the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota (U of M) announced a breakthrough for rapid, widespread testing of COVID-19 in Minnesota. Standing together at the State’s Emergency Operations Center, they launched a statewide testing strategy to test all symptomatic people, isolate confirmed cases and expand public health surveillance tools. By building capacity to test as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day, this increased testing and tracing will help improve control of this pandemic and support the safe re-opening of society. “When Minnesota faces a challenge, we rise up—together,” Governor Walz said. “I’m proud to partner with Minnesota’s innovative healthcare systems and leading research institutions to pioneer how states can begin to move forward amid COVID-19.” The partnership will help to assure that every person in the state with symptoms of COVID-19 gets tested. Funded in part by $36 million from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund, the partnership will establish capacity to deliver 20,000 molecular and 15,000 serology tests per day. “This expanded testing capacity will be transformative to our COVID-19 response, especially for vulnerable populations: individuals living in congregate care settings or experiencing homelessness; communities of color and American Indians; and critical workers,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “By testing more people, we will build a better picture of how COVID-19 is impacting our state and how to combat it. I am grateful to the extraordinary healthcare professionals at the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and all of our health systems for making this partnership possible.” The partnership will improve control of COVID-19 in Minnesota through increased public health surveillance and research. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and its public health partners will simultaneously expand contact tracing efforts for better control of the infection. The partnership will help to identify and respond to emerging “hotspots” of infection. They will collect data on prevalence, geographic distribution, and barriers to care for the virus, and they will conduct groundbreaking research on COVID-19 to assure that tests are applied according to the best emerging science. This expanded testing will provide key data for informed decisions needing to be made to protect people throughout Minnesota. It is a necessary step to work toward safely re-opening our state.