4-22 COVID-19 Update: MDH Urges Testing for Students, Athletes Amid Increase in Cases
MDH Urges COVID-19 Testing for Students, Athletes Amid Spike in Cases
Minnesota Department of Health officials are urging regular COVID-19 testing for students and athletes amid an increase in cases. The guidance comes as Minnesota is experiencing increased community spread of COVID-19 and an especially high circulation of variants.
Health officials now estimate that 60 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are associated with the B.1.1.7 variant, a more transmissible version of the virus that may be associated with more severe symptoms. Much of the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks has been seen in younger Minnesotans, particularly among middle and high school.
“The last month plus has been very worrisome, especially among younger Minnesotans,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a statement to CCX News. “Just this week we saw the number of school-related COVID-19 cases in students exceed the high set in November during the fall surge.”
Sports Participants Urged to Get Tested Weekly
Officials encourage all sports participants, including coaches, referees and volunteers, to get tested for the virus weekly. All students not in sports are strongly encouraged to get tested every two weeks. The Minnesota Department of Health advises middle and high schools to offer on-site testing to spur student participation.
“The ability to offer COVID-19 testing through our middle and high schools is one more tool to ensure our students can continue safely learning in-person,” said Heather Mueller, Minnesota’s Department of Education commissioner.
The state will provide free COVID-19 saliva test kits for any middle school, high school and organized sports team through the state’s partnership with Vault Health. Students are also currently able to send their Vault at-home tests back to the lab through their schools.
Over the past month, more people are being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units to treat COVID-19. The average age of hospital admission is also trending younger – 59 years – compared to the November and December surge, when it was 69 years.
Face Covering Guidance
As the state emphasizes COVID-19 testing in sports, participants in outdoor sports will have the option to remove their face covering while on the field or court. However, face coverings must continue to be worn while not actively playing, for example on the sidelines or in the dugout. Face coverings must also continue to be worn at all times for indoor sports.
How Minnesotans can get a COVID-19 test at no cost:
- Walk in or schedule an appointment for a test at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Testing Sites across Minnesota.
- Order a test through the state’s COVID-19 Test at Home program.