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Minnesota launches COVID-19 prevalence survey

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Minnesota launches COVID-19 prevalence survey

File photo by Aaron Lavinsky Kristin Anderson, a medic with the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd Medical Group, administered a free COVID-19 test to Jimmie Turner, 65, of Stillwater, in late May. The Minnesota Department of Health is recruiting volunteers statewide for free COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing to assess the actual spread of the pandemic.

While Minnesota as of Tuesday had reported 1,927 COVID-19 deaths and 85,351 infections with the novel coronavirus that causes the disease — that doesn’t include the thousands of people who suffered mild or asymptomatic cases and never sought testing.

State health officials said an accurate assessment is needed to inform Minnesota’s pandemic response and to identify hot spots at risk for more cases. Prevalence studies also indicate if the population is getting any closer to a level of "herd immunity" that chokes the spread of the virus.

"With a new virus, we have to learn as we go and adapt our response based on new data," said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist, in a news release. "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."

Testing is being offered at different points in September in 180 sites across the state that were chosen to try to gain an accurate demographic sampling. Volunteers receive $20 gift cards and their test results. State health officials will contact anyone whose diagnostic test results indicate an active infection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at one point this summer estimated there are 10 unknown cases for every known case. That implies that […]

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