Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know if I should get tested?
A: If you are feeling sick and have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed in the next answer), you should get tested as soon as possible. If you think you’ve recently been around someone who had COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms yourself, you might also consider getting tested. This screening tool from the CDC can help you decide if you need a test or not.
Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
A: From Forward Together: “People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Some people do not have any symptoms. Symptoms may appear two to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. People with the following symptoms may have COVID-19.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New or recent loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. Most people with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms and recover on their own. Less commonly, COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia, other severe complications, hospitalization or death.”
Q: Is testing free?
A: The test itself will always be free, but if you get tested at a clinic or doctor’s office you may be charged for the appointment. To ensure that you don’t receive a bill for testing, look for a community testing event near you. These events are hosted by the Minnesota Department of Health or other local organizations. They are free of charge whether or not you have health insurance and they do not require you to show any form of ID. You will only need to provide a way for them to contact you with the results.
Q: What should I expect from testing?
A: Depending on the site you choose you may have to make an appointment ahead of time, you may just need to drive up in your car, or you may need to walk into the clinic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the most common type of test involved inserting a 6-inch long swab fairly far back into your nose (known as a nasopharyngeal swab). Since then, new types of tests have been developed: the new norm is to insert the swab only about two inches into the nose. Saliva testing is also becoming much more widespread. There is even an option to collect your saliva sample at home and mail it into the testing facility! For more information or to order an at-home test, visit https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/testsites/athome.ht….
This video has more information about what you can expect to happen at a community testing site:
Q: What’s the point of getting tested if there’s no cure?
A: COVID-19 is highly infectious. So if you get tested and find out you have COVID-19, you can take the proper steps to isolate yourself and avoid infecting others. Certain populations like older adults and people with certain pre-existing conditions are more at-risk of having severe complications due to COVID-19. Taking these precautions is the right thing to do to help keep your community safe!
Q: How long does it take to get results and what should I do while waiting?
A: It usually takes between 2 and 4 days for the test results to come back. If you get tested at your primary care clinic use your online portal such as “MyChart” for the fastest test results. If not, the clinic will contact you directly. In the meantime, you should self-quarantine to make sure you’re not exposing others to COVID-19. Self-quarantine means staying home, monitoring your health, and maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet) from others at all times.
You will get a phone call if you test positive. If you test negative you may not receive a phone call, but you will get an email and/or text pointing you to the website with your results.
Q: What exactly is contact tracing?
A: If you test positive for COVID-19 a public health worker will contact you and ask you who you’ve been in contact with and where you spent time while you were sick and may have spread COVID-19 to others. If you recently tested positive and you receive a call from an unknown number, pick it up! Everything you share with this worker is confidential and won’t be shared with others. The worker will then contact everyone on this list, tell them that they might have been exposed, and advise them to self-quarantine for 14 days to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others. Self-quarantine means staying home, monitoring your health, and maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet) from others at all times.
Keep yourself safe from scams - a real representative from the MDH will never ask for your social security number or financial/bank info and will never offer you money. If you are worried that a call is a scam, you can call 651-201-5414 to be routed to a Case Investigator for your interview instead.
Q: What is the Health Department going to do with my data?
A: If you get tested for COVID-19 or you are contacted via contact tracing, you might be worried about the government having access to your information. All this information is protected health information, meaning it is confidential and has to stay private.
It is important to give, at minimum, an accurate phone number when you get tested. Not only does this ensure that you can get your test results, it is also a necessary step to make sure that the MDH can notify your contacts that they have been exposed as quickly as possible. All COVID-19 reporting from clinics/labs is secure and information is not shared with anyone other than the Minnesota Department of Health. The phone numbers are only used for case investigation and contact tracing and not shared with any other governmental entity.
If you test positive, you will be contacted by the Health Department and asked to provide some information. If you give the interviewer permission to share your address, it will be passed onto the Department of Public Safety 911 dispatch centers (not to law enforcement directly). This is done only so they can tell any first responders who might have to go to your address that they should use personal protective equipment. Your address will only be shared during the time you are in isolation. Every person has a right to refuse an interview from MDH or select questions they ask. It’s important to remember that MDH only asks questions that are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, and they will not ask any information related to immigration status or social security number. Participating in this process is a huge help for protecting communities across Minnesota.
Q: What if I test negative?
A: Congrats! Even if you test negative, you can still test positive in the future. It’s important to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others, and wash your hands frequently. It is also recommended that you complete your 14-day quarantine even if the test comes back negative. This is because it’s possible that you got tested before COVID-19 fully showed up in your system. By completing the 14-day quarantine, you’re making sure you’re not infected.
Page last updated on January 5, 2021.