Published on March 20, 2020

Limited availability of COVID-19 tests changes testing criteria

Essentia Health is following guidelines established by the Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin departments of health regarding who is eligible for COVID-19 testing.

Due to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials, adjustments have been made to testing criteria to focus on the most susceptible people, including hospitalized patients. Health care workers, including EMS providers, and those in congregate living settings such as long-term care facilities also will be given priority.

“We recommend patients schedule an E-visit or call our toll-free number if they are concerned about COVID-19 symptoms,” says Essentia Health infectious disease physician Rajesh Prabhu.

This allows schedulers to screen for key symptoms — shortness of breath, fever and cough, along with known exposure to COVID-19 and travel to an affected area.

It is important to note, however, that if your symptoms are severe and you must see a doctor, call us and we will get you in for care.

Patients with an undiagnosed fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) should self-quarantine for seven days after illness onset, or 72 hours after a fever is gone without taking fever-reducing medications, and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer.

Patients with symptoms who are not able to be tested should isolate themselves from household and intimate contact as much as possible and limit their activities in public for 14 days.

People who have suspected or known cases of COVID-19, but who are not severely ill, should stay home while they recover. Older adults, as well as patients with underlying health conditions, should contact their health care provider for additional guidance. Someone with severe symptoms should start an e-visit before coming into a facility.

Up-to-date information is available here or by calling our COVID-19 hotline at 833-494-0836. E-visits can be scheduled by visiting

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