MDH: test result wait times could extend as supplies redirected to surge states

If sample is being tested outside of MN, results could take longer to come back due to high national demand

Sloane Martin
July 08, 2020 - 3:15 pm

Minnesota health officials are keeping a close eye on states experiencing coronavirus surges because they could impact the state.

The states mostly in the western and southern U.S. could lead to longer wait times for COVID-19 test results, said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

“We are beginning to see some re-emerging supply chain challenges with respect to laboratory supplies nationwide, with some of the supplies being redirected to some of the hotspot states,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm said the agency is monitoring the situation, but with current supply, “we still have more capacity available in the state.”

Minnesota has seen a slowdown in tests including 7,651 reported Wednesday, but that was expected due to the holiday. State Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said to be prepared for an additional lab processing time of up to four to six days.

“If specimens are being sent to labs outside of Minneosota, the demand from across the country can mean that the time it takes to get those lab results back could be extended,” Ehresmann said.

Malcolm said the reports have come the last few days from Minnesota health systems and the regional FEMA office.

More updates from MDH officials Wednesday:

-Minnesota added 463 new cases of COVID-19 from Tuesday -- the bulk of which continues to be young people. Eight more people died, including someone in their 40s, and a person not known to have preexisting conditions in their 30s. Five were residents of long term care facilities

-Minnesota’s 7-day average positivity rate stands at 4.4 percent, which is an increase from a week prior. That’s not a positive thing, but Ehresmann said it could be related to targeted testing and bringing testing to communities that need it.

-A model forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle shows Minnesota maintaining a handle on coronavirus cases through the fall, and that universal mask usage could save as many as 200 lives. A Minnesota-specific model isn’t expected for another few weeks, Malcolm said.

-Large gatherings are still discouraged, but especially don’t socially gather in an effort to spread the virus. So-called “COVID parties” have not been reported in Minnesota, but have popped up elsewhere in the U.S. Besides not knowing exactly how long immunity lasts with coronavirus, it could put other people at risk.

“I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear me say this” Ehresmann said, “but this is a really, really bad idea. Not only is there a small but real risk of a significant illness and complications in young people, but there’s also a real risk that the virus would be passed along to other family members and other people in the community at much higher risk.

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