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There are two kinds of COVID-19 testing – diagnostic (also called PCR or viral) and antibody (serologic) testing. The diagnostic test uses a sample from your nose or throat and tells us if someone has the virus at the time of the test. The antibody test uses a blood test and tells us if someone’s immune system has fought the virus already. If so, it’s a sign that they had the virus in the past.

Learn more about the difference between diagnostic and antibody testing.

Diagnostic Testing

Does M Health Fairview offer COVID-19 diagnostic testing?

Yes, we are doing diagnostic testing for adults and children at 10 drive-up testing sites across the Twin Cities. In Minnesota and nationwide, tests and supplies are limited. We are working to expand our ability to test more people.

Anyone showing any of the following COVID-19 symptoms is a candidate for testing: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • New muscle or body aches
  • New headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • New and unexplained nausea or vomiting (throwing up)
  • Diarrhea (loose stools)
  • New and unexplained feeling of being tired or weak
  • Poor feeding (in young children)

Are you offering diagnostic testing for people without COVID-19 symptoms?

M Health Fairview is working quickly to ramp up testing for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. However, national shortages of lab testing supplies require us to prioritize testing for certain groups without symptoms. These priority groups include:

  • Patients admitted to our care facilities
  • Patients scheduled for surgery
  • Those who had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Patients who reside in congregate living facilities such as nursing homes or group homes
  • Those who have taken part in mass gatherings such as protests, vigils, or neighborhood clean-ups
  • People traveling to locations that require a negative diagnostic test result for entry

How can I be considered for possible diagnostic testing?

Appointments are required for testing. Each person must first be screened by a provider and pre-approved for testing. If you have symptoms that fit with COVID-19, please visit, our 24/7 virtual clinic, to be screened. Our care team will review your symptoms, provide a care plan, and help you set up a testing appointment.

If you or a member of your family has COVID-19 symptoms and is having trouble breathing, please contact a medical provider. Other emergency warning signs can include:

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face 

Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms and when to seek help.

How does the diagnostic testing process work?

Qualifying patients who have already been assessed through will be scheduled for an appointment. The appointment will take place at one of our 8 drive-up test collection centers. Collection involves swabbing deep inside the nose. People who test negative will receive their results in MyChart within 3 days or by U.S. mail in 7 to 10 days. People with positive results will receive a phone call from our care team within 3 days. Please note: To access your results in MyChart, you must use the MyChart system that matches the clinic that tested you: Fairview or HealthEast.

Will my insurance cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing?

If you need COVID-19 testing, many Minnesota health plans are covering out-of-pocket patient costs. Please check with your insurer to understand your potential out-of-pocket costs according to your plan benefits. The charge for M Health Fairview to administer the test is $110.

What do my test results mean?

If your result was positive, you have COVID-19. Follow our instructions for a positive result. Instructions are also available in Hmong, Karen, Somali, and Spanish.

If your result was negative, we didn’t find the virus in your sample, but you might still have COVID-19. Follow our instructions for a negative result. Instructions are also available in Hmong, Karen, Somali, and Spanish.

You will receive these instructions by mail or in MyChart as well.

Most people with COVID-19 have a mild illness and will recover at home. Our care team can guide you online or by phone. Those with more severe illness may need extra medical support or hospital care. Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms, and when you should seek medical care.

Antibody (Serologic) Testing

Should I consider antibody testing? What do results mean?

You should consider this testing if you need to know whether you have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. This may include people who had symptoms and were unable to get diagnostic testing when they were sick. It may also include people who have not been sick since the COVID-19 outbreak began but are concerned that they have been exposed. Keep in mind that antibodies to viruses don’t develop for at least two weeks after the first exposure or infection. In some people, antibodies don’t develop at all.  

The results of a COVID-19 antibody test can help people learn if they have been infected. Experts don’t know yet whether those with antibodies to the COVID-19 virus are immune to future infection from it. Don’t let the results of an antibody test change your behavior. Continue social distancing and other steps meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

When should I seek antibody testing instead of diagnostic testing?

Only the diagnostic test – not the antibody test – can tell if someone has a COVID-19 infection at the time of the test. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should seek diagnostic testing. (See above for details.) People can consider antibody testing to understand if they may have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19 more than 14 days ago.  

Experts don’t know yet if people with antibodies to the COVID-19 virus are immune to future infection from it. Don’t let the results of an antibody test change your behavior. Continue social distancing and other steps meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Why is M Health Fairview developing antibody testing?

Antibody testing can give public health experts important information about how COVID-19 spreads through a large group of people. This information can then help M Health Fairview and the Minnesota Department of Health come up with better safety steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  

How does the testing process work?

Right now, there are 2 ways for people to get an antibody (serology) test: testing by referral and retail testing by appointment.

To be tested by referral:

Call 1-855-FAIRVIEW (324-7843) and ask for a COVID-19 antibody test. A registered nurse will ask callers simple questions over the phone. During this call, the nurse will ask you to give details about your potential COVID-19 exposure. After this first call, our care team will call those who meet the standards for antibody testing and schedule a blood test. The test will be at one of our M Health Fairview locations. People with certain symptoms may be considered for diagnostic testing rather than antibody testing.You may also get a test ahead of others based on your symptoms, exposure details, or other factors. Your insurance will be billed for this service.

To get retail testing by appointment:

Retail antibody testing is also available at several M Health Fairview sites without a nurse call and referral. To schedule a testing appointment, please call 612-273-7838 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those who get tested pay up front, have a quick blood draw taken, and get their results in the mail in 3 to 5 days.

For $45, a person can order a standard antibody test. This test tells if COVID-19 antibodies are present in their body. Or, for $55, they can choose a test that tells if antibodies are present in the body and measures the level of antibodies in the body. Our on-site testing staff will help you select the option that is best for you.

Retail antibody testing is available by appointment at the following locations: