The Minnesota Department of Health, along with the Minnesota Department of Education, issued updated guidance Thursday for students in middle and high school as well as any Minnesotans participating in organized sports.

With ongoing concerns about the potential of sports and other group activities contributing to COVID-19 transmission, the recommendation is that athletes, coaches, referees, volunteers and other participants get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. Students not participating in sports or other group activities are still strongly encouraged to test every two weeks.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, an estimated 60% of all COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are associated with the B.1.1.7 variant, a more transmissible version of the virus that may be associated with more severe symptoms. Much of the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks has been seen in younger Minnesotans, particularly among middle and high school.

Furthermore, more people are being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units to treat COVID-19 in recent months, and the average age of hospital admission is trending younger (59 years) than during November and December surge (69 years).

“The last month plus has been very worrisome – especially among younger Minnesotans,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. "Just this week we saw the number of school-related COVID-19 cases in students exceed the high set in November during the fall surge. We are making encouraging progress with vaccinations, but there are still many Minnesotans who are susceptible and we need to do what we can to slow the spread. In addition to vaccinations, COVID-19 testing is an important complementary tool to limit the damage of this disease. By testing and catching cases before they spread, we give schools and students the best chance for in-person learning, full sports seasons, and other activities that are so important.”

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In order to make COVID-19 testing more accessible to students, the Minnesota Department of Education is striving to have COVID-19 testing available onsite at Minnesota middle and high schools.

Here are two other easy ways to get tested:

  1. Walk in or schedule an appointment for a test at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Testing Sites across Minnesota. In Duluth, this would be done at the DECC.
  2. Order a test through the state’s COVID-19 Test at Home program. You can click here for full details on how to do this.

Regarding sports in Minnesota, face coverings will continue to be required for all indoor activities. For sports played outdoors, face coverings will be required while not actively playing, such as when players on in a dugout or on the sidelines. Players will have the option of removing their face covering while actively playing an outdoor sport.

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