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Department of Health launches electronic case investigation survey

Jan 21, 2021 10:26AM ● By Editor

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm  Photo: MPR


From the Minnesota Department of Health - January 21, 2021


The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched a new, online survey for COVID-19 case investigation today as part of an effort to make this public health strategy faster, easier and more efficient for Minnesotans contacted about COVID-19 cases.

“The scale of this pandemic has made us look to new methods to do our work,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Tools like this survey will mean we can reach more people, more quickly, and ideally slow the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota.” 

Case investigation is the process to determine close contacts of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. It’s the first step when someone tests positive; contact tracing can’t happen until a case investigation is complete. The typical case investigation process involves public health workers calling someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, but contacting people by phone isn’t always the quickest or easiest method.

With the new approach, when someone tests positive for COVID-19, MDH will send them a text message inviting them to participate in a survey. By responding to the text with an email address, people who test positive for COVID-19 can complete the online survey without needing to wait for a call from public health workers. Both the texts and the survey itself will be available in multiple languages to reach as many Minnesotans as possible. 

People who receive a text message but decide they would like to do the case interview by phone can simply ignore the text and wait for a call. The survey collects information about symptoms and testing dates, but also connects those who take it with help that might make isolation and quarantine less of a burden. 

The survey was successfully piloted in Hennepin County the week of Jan. 11.

“There are many COVID-19 cases to interview,” said MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann. “This survey means people who have tested positive don’t have to wait for a call, but can just jump right in and learn more about how to keep themselves and their families safe. The survey will make it easier for us to track COVID-19, and make it easier for people to help stop the spread.”

MDH is aware that concerns about scams or spoofing calls might make Minnesotans less willing to answer the text or a call. There are a few red flags to keep in mind.

“We want people to know it’s the health department sending the message,” Ehresmann said. “We’re never going to ask for banking information, financial information, or things like your Social Security Number. When in doubt, you can call the health department at 651-201-4989, or check our avoiding phone scams webpage.”