Minnesota seeks volunteers for free COVID-19 tests to assess virus spread - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Sep 16, 2020 1 min, 27 secs
The Minnesota Department of Health is going door to door across the state to find volunteers for free COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing to assess the actual spread of the pandemic.

While Minnesota as of Tuesday had reported 1,927 COVID-19 deaths and 85,351 infections with the novel coronavirus that causes the disease, that doesn’t include thousands of people who suffered mild or asymptomatic cases and never sought testing.

State health officials said an accurate assessment is needed to inform Minnesota’s pandemic response and to identify hot spots at risk for more cases.

The new research initiative comes as Minnesota health officials closely monitor daily COVID-19 activity reports and assess whether the resumption of K-12 and college classes have caused a new wave of cases.

Several indicators of pandemic severity are trending in the right direction, with the current positivity rate of diagnostic testing dipping below 5% and COVID-19 hospitalizations reaching a two-month low this week.

The state on Tuesday reported 238 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including 131 people in intensive care, along with five COVID-19 deaths and 432 coronavirus infections.

On the other hand, the 65 deaths reported since last Tuesday are the most in a seven-day period since late June.

Some researchers nationally have reported cases of people who don’t test positive for antibodies but show an immune system reaction to COVID-19 in their white blood T-cell counts.

A high positive antibody rate in a county with a low COVID-19 case rate also suggests a lack of medical resources and the need to divert more testing opportunities, she said.

Positive diagnostic tests in the study could inflate local community COVID-19 rates, but Yendell said the state testers are only spending a couple of days in any one location, so the impact should be minimal.

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