BAXTER — A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will open 8 a.m. Monday, March 23, at the Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Baxter Clinic.

The testing site is exclusively for those who fit the current Minnesota Department of Health testing criteria and have also first completed an e-visit, a news release stated. Essentia Health is following guidelines established by the Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin departments of health regarding who is eligible for COVID-19 testing.

Due to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials, testing criteria focuses on the most susceptible people, including hospitalized patients. Health care workers, including EMS providers, and those in congregate living settings, such as long-term care facilities, will also be given priority.

“We recommend patients schedule an e-visit or call our toll-free number if they are concerned about COVID-19 symptoms,” stated Essentia Health infectious disease physician Rajesh Prabhu in the release.

This allows schedulers to screen for key symptoms — shortness of breath, fever and cough, along with known exposure to COVID-19 and travel to an affected area. If symptoms are severe, call Essentia Health to get in for needed care.

Patients with an undiagnosed fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) should self-quarantine for seven days after illness onset, or 72 hours after a fever is gone without taking fever-reducing medications, and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer.

Patients with symptoms who are not able to be tested should isolate themselves from household and intimate contact as much as possible. Those contacts should limit their activities in public for 14 days and should monitor for symptoms.

People who have suspected or known cases of COVID-19, but who are not severely ill, should stay home while they recover. Older adults, as well as patients with underlying health conditions, should contact their health care provider for additional guidance. Someone with severe symptoms should start an e-visit before coming into a facility.

Up-to-date information is available at EssentiaHealth.org or by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 833-494-0836. E-visits can be scheduled by visiting the website.

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