Walz, Mayo, U of M announce COVID-19 testing breakthrough

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Gov. Tim Walz and health officials with Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota announced a breakthrough in COVID-19 testing in the state Wednesday.

According to a release, a statewide testing strategy, which aims to test all symptomatic people, isolate confirmed cases and expand public health surveillance tools, is being launched. 

In the announcement, officials said by building capacity to test as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day, the increased testing and tracing will help control the pandemic and support safely reopening society.

"When Minnesota faces a challenge, we rise up – together," Walz said. "I'm proud to partner with Minnesota's innovative health care systems and leading research institutions to pioneer how states can begin to move forward amid COVID-19."

The partnership will help assure every Minnesotan with COVID-19 symptoms gets tested, and is funded in part by $36 million from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund. It will also help establish a capacity to deliver 20,000 molecular and 15,000 serology tests per day.

The Minnesota Department of Health and its public health partners will simultaneously expand contact tracing efforts for better control of the infection, and together will work to identify and respond to emerging COVID-19 hotspots.

"We are pleased to roll out this newe testing effort in partnership with the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic," MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. "Having this greatly increased testing capacity will improve our understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading in Minnesota, and will provide key data to inform our decisions about how to protect Minnesotans."

In partnership with MDH, the Mayo Clinic and the U of M will create a central lab to accommodate expanded testing and a virtual command center in coordination with the health systems to monitor daily testing needs and coordinate rapid responses to outbreaks. Expanded testing will include intensive testing of vulnerable populations, people living in congregate settings, homeless people, staff serving vulnerable populations and health care workers, and workforce for critical infrastructure, the state said in the announcement.

This is a breaking news story. KSTP is working to get more details on this story and will post updates as more information becomes available.

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