Update 4:45 p.m. March 17, 2020: Mayo Clinic on Tuesday, March 17, announced it would be pushing back all elective care appointments that can be deferred for at least eight weeks as the health care provider reacts to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new policy covers elective surgeries, procedures and office visits. starting March 23. Patients will be contacted directly with changes to appointments.

Semi-urgent, urgent and emergency care will continue as normal.

"This decision is being made to ensure the safest possible environment for our patients and staff and to free up resources to assist in Mayo Clinic’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a news release. "Staff working in impacted areas will be redeployed where needed most."

Original story below:

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Patients who meet certain criteria and contacted their doctor first can be tested for COVID-19 at Mayo Clinic Health System's southeastern Minnesota drive-through testing sites.

"A provider or nurse will determine if patients meet criteria and will schedule a drive-through test," according to a news release Tuesday, March 17. "Tests will not be offered to people who have not been pre-screened over the phone."

The steps for drive-through COVID-19 testing at Mayo Clinic Health System:

  • First, call their primary care clinic/provider for a phone screening.
  • If they meet the criteria for testing, patients will be directed to the nearest drive-through testing location. Locations in Southeast Minnesota include Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna, Red Wing and Rochester.
  • At the drive-through location, Mayo Clinic Health System staff will collect the specimens using appropriate precautions.
  • The specimens will then be sent to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for analysis.
  • Patients will be advised of next steps.

Mayo Clinic Health System is posting updates at www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/covid19.

State to focus testing on hospitalized patients, health care workers

The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday announced that due to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials, the state will focus on "highest priority specimens" such as hospitalized patients and health care workers.

The state department sent health care providers the following guidance Tuesday:

  • Hospitals and health care systems should assess whether they can send specimens to a commercial reference laboratory, and determine their own priorities for testing and assess whether these labs have restrictions.
  • Limit sending specimens to the Minnesota Department of Health to those from hospitalized COVID-19 patients. At this time, MDH can also test ill health care workers and ill persons living in congregate settings.
  • Providers should inform all patients with undiagnosed fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), even those not able to be tested, that they should self-quarantine for 7 days after illness onset, or 72 hours after resolution of fever (without taking fever-reducing medications), and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer. Patients should seek care if their symptoms become severe. They should call ahead to health provider when possible.
  • Patients with symptoms who are not able to be tested should isolate themselves from household and intimate contacts as much as possible. Household and intimate contacts of these individuals should limit their activities in public for 14 days after the incorporating precautions in the home, and monitor for symptoms.

According to MDH:

People who have suspect or known cases of COVID-19, but who are not severely ill, should stay home while they recover. If they have severe underlying health conditions or are older adults should contact their health care provider to see if they have additional recommendations for them. If someone develops severe symptoms they should call ahead to their health care provider if possible prior to seeking care.

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