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Minnesota begins household survey, free COVID-19 testing

Randomly selected households will be able to complete a questionnaire and receive free COVID-19 testing and antibody testing.

Minnesota health officials and the CDC are starting a statewide survey to better understand how COVID-19 is spreading. 

Teams will visit randomly selected households in 180 pre-selected areas of the state. If they agree to participate, one member of the household will complete a questionnaire and the entire household can be tested for COVID-19. The survey runs from Sept. 14 to Sept. 30.

All household members who consent can receive a COVID-19 test using a swab to test for current infection. They can also have an antibody test using a finger stick to see if they've ever been infected. 

Participants with positive results for either test will be contacted by a nurse to receive additional information. MDH said all questionnaire responses and results will be kept private.

MDH said the survey will help officials make decisions and meet the needs of the state's communities.

“Through the CASPER survey, we hope to better understand how COVID-19 is spreading in Minnesota and how it is affecting people,” Dr. Ruth Lynfield, MDH state epidemiologist, said in a press release. “With a new virus, we have to learn as we go and adapt our response based on new data. Information we gather in this survey will allow us to refine our recommendations to best meet the needs of our Minnesota communities in the prevention of COVID-19.”

MDH said the survey has five goals: 

  • Understand how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota communities.
  • Understand what caused COVID-19 to spread in certain areas.
  • Explore how COVID-19 transmission and infection rates differ among regions in Minnesota.
  • Identify the percentage of people infected with COVID-19 that have no symptoms.
  • Improve health messaging and help stop COVID-19 spread.

Officials said the areas that teams will visit are census blocks, used by the U.S. Census Bureau, and were selected using a sampling method that takes into account population size. Households were randomly selected within each area. Only households approached by the investigation teams are eligible to participate. Teams will be wearing face masks, vests, and badges identifying them as members of the MDH COVID-19 Survey Team.

It's done through the help of the CDC, which developed the survey. The process, called CASPER, has been during public health emergencies like hurricanes, oil spills, and the Zika virus outbreak. Several other states are also conducting similar surveys.

The survey is funded through COVID Relief Funds. For more information about this study, visit CASPER: COVID-19 Public Health Survey.

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