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'Handful' of St. Cloud Area Residences Picked for Voluntary COVID-19 Survey

'Handful' of St. Cloud Area Residences Picked for Voluntary COVID-19 Survey Click to Enlarge Photo: Associated Press

(KNSI) - To better measure the effects of COVID-19 in Minnesota communities, the Minnesota Department of Health is conducting a voluntary survey through the end of September at randomly chosen households across the state.

Some St. Cloud area residences will be surveyed, said Stephanie Yendell, the study coordinator and MDH senior epidemiology supervisor.

"We do have at least a handful of sites that are in and around the St. Cloud area," Yendell said.

The survey effort, which began Monday, follows a modified Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, a survey model used during the U.S. Zika outbreak and other health emergencies.

"We're really trying to get better information about COVID-19 and make sure that we're understanding ... how many people have been exposed in the past and how that differs in different regions of the state," Yendell said.

Yendell said MDH selected survey sites — 30 places in each of six geographic regions — at random to ensure good geographic representation in the study. This means Minnesotans cannot opt in to be surveyed if their household was not selected.

Public health workers with MDH CASPER-labeled name tags will visit selected houses and apartment buildings in teams.

The survey effort includes two free COVID-19 tests for each member of the household: a diagnostic nasal swab, used to detect an active infection, and a finger prick blood test, used to detect COVID-19 antibodies. MDH will notify participants of their test results "within a few days," according to the CASPER Survey FAQ webpage.

Yendell said CASPER teams will give one $20 gift card to each surveyed household as a "thank-you for people's time."

The state health department states that participation in the survey is optional, and participants can opt out of one or both COVID-19 tests.

Participants' health information will remain confidential, and Yendell said the survey team will not ask for financial information.

More information about the MDH CASPER Survey can be found on the state health department's website.