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Armed residents confront COVID-19 testing team in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS — A team of health workers conducting random COVID-19 testing was recently confronted by armed residents in a Minnesota neighborhood, though state officials have not said when or where the incident occurred.

Health officials have been doing random testing of households in 180 Minnesota communities since Monday to help understand how COVID-19 is spread. The state hasn’t said where the studies are being conducted.

Minnesota Department of Health spokeswoman Julie Bartkey told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the team did the right thing by leaving the situation and notifying a site coordinator.

“The vast majority of neighborhoods have been friendly, but we will continue to monitor for concerns as we move through different areas of the state,” Bartkey said. “It could have been a simple misunderstanding, we simply don’t know.”

The workers from the state Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are wearing credentials as they knock on doors. Households are chosen at random, and state officials have encouraged participation if asked. The study includes an interview and testing for active COVID-19 infections as well as antibody testing that would indicate a previous exposure.

The incident came to light after at least two Twin Cities-area police departments posted an email from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety on their social media accounts. The message said: “a team of MDH and CDC examiners was recently confronted by a group of armed citizens while out in a neighborhood.”

Minnesota reported an additional 1,099 cases of the coronavirus on Friday, and eight new deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 87,807 confirmed cases and 1,950 deaths since the pandemic began.

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