Hospitals urge Minnesotans to not go to emergency, urgent care centers for COVID tests

Leaders at hospitals across the state are asking Minnesotans to go elsewhere for COVID-19 tests to ease pressure on emergency departments.

The Minnesota Hospital Association on Friday released a statement saying the high volume of patients seeking COVID-19 tests has driven up wait times for medical emergencies at several hospitals.

Instead, Minnesotans can get tested at one of the many state testing sites or through an at-home testing kit.

Below is the full statement from the Minnesota Hospital Association.

"We have run out of words to describe what we are undergoing – a crisis does not even come close; hospitals are literally full.

We urgently need the public’s help to keep our emergency departments available for medical emergencies.

Please do not go to emergency departments or urgent care centers for a COVID-19 test. Seek testing at one of the many state testing sites or use a home test kit. Please help us keep our emergency department capacity and staff available for medical emergencies.

The care capacity throughout all of Minnesota is severely limited – ICUs are full, emergency departments are full, medical-surgical units are full, hallways are full, and surgeries are being canceled. Hospitals and health systems are working together in real-time to meet this challenge and coordinate resources. They are essentially now functioning as one giant system of care to support our joint mission of serving all Minnesotans. To continue to serve the high volume of patients that need care for strokes, heart attacks, emergency surgeries, motor vehicle accidents, and COVID-19, we need your help now."

"With all these factors at once, this is the most hard-pressed that the health system has been since the beginning of the pandemic, and that’s why we’re concerned about these next few weeks," Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Friday when asked about the association’s statement.

"Even though the early data suggests that this variant is thankfully milder, the high, high number of cases that we’re seeing means that even if we’re seen a lower proportion of people need hospitalization, because so many people are sick, that it’s still going to impact our health care settings," MDH Director for Infectious Diseases Kris Ehresmann added.

As of Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health says more than 16.5 million COVID-19 tests had been done since the pandemic began. Out of those, 1,064,065 have come back positive — including reinfections.