COVID Nurse Hotline, local and “no barrier” testing

December 1, 2020

by Mary Rains

In the Nov. 13 Minnesota Dept. of Health (MDH) media briefing call, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told reporters, “This is the year to think about the ultimate love for your family – protect them, however you need to do that.” Osterholm went on to say that as much as we want and need, emotionally, holiday get-togethers, if we can’t find a way to be certain in the 14 days preceding that we aren’t exposed to the virus, then we need to find alternative ways to celebrate. “This is our gift to each other, to love each other that much,” he said. 

COVID-19 Testing for symptomatic patients only at this time

In other news, Mille Lacs Health System wants to remind the public that, due to a lack of resources, COVID-19 testing is only being done on patients who have symptoms. Patients need to call the COVID Nurse Hotline, and the nurse answering will ask questions based on an algorithm MLHS uses to screen patients prior to testing. The COVID Nurse Hotline number is 320-532-2989.

COVID Nurse Hotline

“We are asking that patients call that number only if they have symptoms and questions about getting tested,” said MLHS COO and Incident Commander for the Coronavirus emergency response team. “Please keep that line, and that nursing resource, open for patients who are ill with COVID symptoms, needing a test. The number should not be used for unrelated general medical questions. We, like many other facilities across the country, need to keep our staff resources for critical issues and care.”

"No Barrier" Testing

The public should be aware that there are options for “no barrier” testing, which the state of Minnesota has recently launched, including a new home testing kit. These tests do not require you to have symptoms. For information on saliva testing, home testing kits, testing locations, and other information on COVID-19, visit You can find information on what to do if you have COVID-19, and guidance to return to work on MLHS’s website. Put “Covid patient education” in the search bar to find patient resources. 

The Minnesota Department of Health is expanding its toolkit for case investigation and contact tracing by notifying people via text that the health department will be calling. The initiative aims to more effectively reach and inform those who test positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts about what they need to do to prevent further spread. The texting began last week.