Major health clinics in Twin Cities have no immediate plans to offer 5-minute COVID-19 test
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The new test for COVID-19 that can deliver results in five minutes has been touted as a game-changer, but it could be some time before it’s widely available in the Twin Cities.
Four major Minnesota healthcare systems told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they had no immediate plans to offer the tests because they don’t currently use the equipment to run the tests or no tests are available.
Abbott, the pharmaceutical company that made the test, said its toaster-oven size device is already in thousands of hospitals and clinics across the country.
The company believes it can send out 50,000 tests every day starting this week. It would put an end to waiting days for results from overburdened labs.
“In the days ahead we are going to go even faster,” President Donald Trump said in a press conference on Monday.
The newly approved test is very similar to the strep or flu test where a doctor swabs the patient’s nose or throat, and definitively tells the patient if they’re positive before they leave the office.
In the Twin Cities, Allina Health and Hennepin Healthcare don’t use the Abbott equipment for testing. A spokesman for Allina said if it could get the tests it would purchase the equipment. However, it’s believed most of the new tests are going to hotspots in the country — not Minnesota.
HealthPartners told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that it will start using a different same-day test this week, but only for hospitalized patients and healthcare workers.
M Health Fairview acknowledged it was in talks with Abbott, but for the time being will work on its own testing.
All the health systems share the same struggle: A shortage of supplies and materials that has hampered testing since the start.
“Every test run in a clinic is one less test that we need to run, and every little bit helps,” said Joanne Bartkus, director of the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory. “Once testing can be done in the clinics, the Public Health Laboratory can focus on surveillance and outbreak investigation.”