COVID-19 Resources

COVID Resources for the MHS Community

This brief uses sources from the World Health Organization (WHO), US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

See Mental Health System's COVID-19 Policy here

COVID Prevention

Where to Get Tested

Where to Get Vaccinated

Testing Information

Vaccine Information

What to Do If You Get COVID

 

COVID PREVENTION

  • Get vaccinated when a vaccine is available to you[1],[2] Get a booster shot when it is available to you[3]
  • Keep physical distance of at least 6 feet (CDC recommendation)[2] or 1 metre (WHO recommendation)[1] from others, even if they don’t appear to be sick.
  • Wear a properly fitted mask, especially in crowded, closed and poorly ventilated settings[1],[3],[4]
  • Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water[5]
  • Test to prevent spread to others[2],[3]
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and clean hands regularly[6]
  • Monitor your health daily.[2] If you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, self-isolate until you recover[1],[3]

WHERE TO GET TESTED

USPS at-home tests

  • Free for all
  • Nasal antigen (15 minute results)
  • Residential households in the U.S. can order one set of 4 free at-home tests from USPS.com.
  • Limit of one order per residential address
  • Tests are shipping as received from the manufacturer, expect significant delays

Vault testing locations

  • Free for MN residents, $94 for non-residents
  • Saliva PCR (24-72 hour results) and rapid antigen (15 min-3 hours)
  • 5 sites around the Twin Cities, 7 in greater MN
  • Make an appointment here. Check here for up to date information, including holiday closures.

All community testing locations

  • Free for all
  • Saliva PCR (24-72 hour results) or nasal antigen (1-3 hour results) depending on the site
  • 9 sites around the Twin Cities, 13 in greater MN (including the Vault locations above)
  • Site hours, test type, ADA accessibility, and scheduling link on the website
  • Make an appointment here

Vault mail-in test

GS Labs

  • Free with insurance, $380 without insurance
  • A standard appointment includes nasal rapid antigen (30 minute results) AND nasal PCR (3-5 day results)
  • Tests are drive-up. Both antigen and PCR are administered at each appointment, pending test availability
  • Nasal rapid PCR (1 hour results) are also available for $385, regardless of insurance
  • 7 sites around the Twin Cities
    Make an appointment here

Health provider testing sites in MN

  • Health provider sites generally offer free testing with insurance, and may be able to offer free testing for folks without insurance with application to the HRSA program to expand access to COVID testing. The testing location will walk you through this process.
  • This webpage lists all community (explained above) and health provider (explained below) sites
  • Some sites require a phone consultation to determine test eligibility. Once you find and contact a testing site through the website, they will let you know the process.
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WHERE TO GET VACCINATED

  • Wide range of options and help with booking: CDC Vaccine Finder – searches for sites with available appointments near you, and directs you to the booking site for each location. Search for locations here.
  • Limited options and easy booking: MDH Find a Vaccination Clinic – searches for sites near you on the date you specify. You can book an appointment directly through this site.
  • Wide range of options and moderate help with booking: MN COVID-19 Response Vaccine Finder – searches for sites near you, with the option of filtering by available accommodations. If the listed site you wish to visit does not contain a website or phone to schedule the vaccine, try searching the location name with “COVID vaccine” in a search engine. For example, type “Sam's Club Pharmacy Bloomington COVID vaccine” into Google.

TESTING INFORMATION

There are two main types of diagnostic COVID-19 tests: molecular (PCR) and antigen. Antibody tests are used for research purposes, but do not diagnose COVID or help prevent transmission.

Molecular (PCR)[7]

What they do: These tests look for the virus’s genetic material and are the current standard for diagnosing COVID-19. They generally require a lab and skilled lab workers to complete.

Method: Nasal or throat swab, saliva

Turnaround: typically 24+ hours, depending on lab availability

Accuracy: Very high

Antigen[7]

What they do: These tests detect certain proteins on the surface or in the virus. They are inexpensive, efficient, and fast. They can be used to make a clinical diagnosis in symptomatic patients in the first five days of symptoms. However, they aren’t currently recommended for screening asymptomatic populations.

Method: Nasal or throat swab

Turnaround: As fast as 10–15 minutes, or up to 30 minutes

Accuracy: High for symptomatic patients, less accurate in asymptomatic patients

Antibody[8]

What they do: These tests detect if you have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in your blood (whether you have had COVID in the past). They help scientists learn about how human immune systems defend against the virus, as well as learn about population-level protection.

Method: Blood

Turnaround: As fast as 10–15 minutes, or up to 30 minutes

Accuracy: Antibody tests are not recommended for diagnosing a current infection or determining whether you need to quarantine after a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19

 

VACCINE INFORMATION

Each of the vaccines available to Americans have undergone rigorous review in order to be approved for public use.[9] This review, done by medical and scientific teams at the CDC and FDA, looks at study results from manufacturers on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.[10] The WHO has done further evaluations of the vaccines developed for COVID-19, and each vaccine approved by the FDA and CDC has met the necessary criteria for safety and efficacy to be approved by the WHO as well.[9] Clinical trials and studies for COVID vaccines have included participants that are at the highest risk with the disease, including children, pregnant people, and immunocompromised folks from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Without a representative range of study participants, the reviewing teams would not be confident that a COVID vaccine is safe and effective for all.[11]

Resources:

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE COVID

Preparing mentally and physically can help combat COVID anxiety and help you feel some semblance of control.[12]

  • Make a plan for how and where you’ll get tested when exposed – perhaps order a test so you have one ready at home when needed.
  • Decide who will be your main source of medical care if you get sick – if you don’t have a primary care physician (PCP), try using the website or phone number for your insurance plan to find a PCP near you. If you are not insured, call 211 for help connecting to low-cost healthcare and resources.
  • Make a plan for isolation – make sure you are familiar with your workplace’s sick leave or PTO policies, consider childcare needs, how you’ll get food and medicine, and how to take care of your pets. MHS has a robust virtual clinic that generally allows clients to be able to continue services while isolating – check with your clinician.
  • Stock up on essentials – check your pantry/freezer for low-effort meal staples and your medicine cabinet for your preferred cold symptom treatments and tissues. Remember that if you get sick, you will likely be very low on energy to plan and cook and potentially have little appetite, so choose things that will suit you in that state.

Prevent transmission[13] by

  • Staying home and isolating from anyone without symptoms. If you cannot isolate within your home, wear a mask.
    • Symptomatic COVID
      • Stay home until:
        • You feel better. Your cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better. AND
        • It has been 10 days since you first felt sick. AND
        • You have had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
    • Asymptomatic COVID
      • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms, you must still stay home and away from others for 10 days.
      • Avoiding sharing household items (bedding, towels, dishes) with others
      • Calling ahead for any medical appointments
      • Washing your hands often
      • Covering coughs and sneezes

    Take care of yourself [13] by

    • Resting and staying hydrated
    • Monitoring your symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and contacting your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms worsen

    Seek emergency medical attention [13] if you

    • Have trouble breathing
    • Feel persistent pain or pressure in your chest
    • Struggle to wake up or stay awake
    • Have discolored skin, lips, or nail beds (depending on skin tone, this may present as pale, grey, purple, or blue)


[1] WHO. 2021, 15 November. COVID-19 advice for the public: Getting vaccinated. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines/advice

[2] CDC. 2021, 29 November. COVID-19: How to protect yourself and others. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

[3] MDH. n.d. Protect yourself & others: COVID-19. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/prevention.html

[4] MDH. 2022, 4 January. Recommendations for wearing masks. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/facecover.html

[5] WHO. n.d. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_2

[6] WHO. 2021, 1 October. Advice for the public: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

[7] Winny, Annalies. 2020, 2 November. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2020/what-are-all-the-different-kinds-of-covid-19-tests

[8] CDC. 2021, 9 December. COVID-19 testing: What you need to know. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html

[9] WHO. 2021, 29 November. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines safety. https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines-safety

[10] CDC. 2021, 28 September. Ensuring COVID-19 vaccine safety in the US. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html

[11] MDH. N.d. About COVID-19 vaccine: Vaccine safety. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine/basics.html#5

[12] Wilkerson Miller, Rachel. 2021, 18 December. You might get a breakthrough case of COVID-19 this winter. Here’s how to prepare. https://www.vox.com/22841985/breakthrough-covid-19-winter-positive-test-how-to-prepare

[13] CDC. 2021, 8 December. What to do if you are sick. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

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