ROCHESTER, Minn. — Beginning the week of Sept. 14 and continuing through the end of the month, if your address is randomly chosen, you could be visited by a team of local or state health workers in a specially marked car.

They will be hoping to ask a few questions, take a nasal swab, prick your finger for blood, and eventually, let you know if you now or have ever had COVID-19.

The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, or CASPER teams, will arrive in a car marked "COVID-19 Survey Team." They will be wearing masks and vests with name tags, and they will not let you know they are coming in advance.

“Through the CASPER survey, we hope to better understand how COVID-19 is spreading in Minnesota and how it is affecting people,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota Department of Health state epidemiologist, in a statement dated Tuesday, Sept. 15. “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.”

The survey is voluntary and you can participate in all or part of it. It is expected to reach seven randomly selected households in 137 cities or towns out of 180 proportionately assigned census tracts statewide.

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"We hope to hit seven households in each site, for a total of roughly 1,200 households," said Doug Schultz of the Minnesota Department of Health.

The survey hopes to learn how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota communities, what caused spread in certain areas, the percentage of asymptomatic patients in the state and the dynamics of transmission and infection rates among different regions in Minnesota. It is being conducted in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We encourage people to participate in the survey if their household is selected," said Lynfield. "Along with being able to receive free, in-home testing for current and past COVID-19 infection, this is a unique opportunity for people to help us learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 and aid in our efforts to fight this pandemic."

Minnesota reported 432 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the laboratory confirmed case total to 85,351.

The state reported an additional five deaths from the illness as well, bringing the new statewide death toll to 1927. The deaths were recorded in Beltrami, Freeborn and Hennepin counties, with two deaths in Dakota County. Two of the five who died were residents of long-term care.

After record-setting testing activity over the weekend, testing dropped, as is common, on Tuesday to 9,672.

There are now 238 Minnesotans hospitalized with the virus, 131 in the ICU.

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  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
  • COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.