MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Starting Monday, Minnesotans will have no excuse to miss a very important call about their health.

The Minnesota Department of Health is launching an automated texting program to tell residents if they are COVID positive.

RELATED: Contact Tracing Challenges MDH As COVID Cases Reach Record Highs In Minnesota

Chris Elvrum, who oversees the state health department’s contact tracing, says the recent surge in cases is overwhelming his staff.

“It’s a little discouraging, I’ll be perfectly honest,” Elvrum said.

Minnesota hit another daily COVID-19 case record broken this weekend. More than 8,000 people tested positive on Saturday.

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Earlier this year when positive cases were lower, Elvrum says MDH would call people three to five times or until they answered their phone to let them know they were positive. Now, they don’t have that luxury.

“We are having a hard time getting back to that second or third call, so that is the reason that this texting, we hope, will really increase the number of people that pick up on the first call,” Elvrum said.

Anyone who tests positive will get a text before a phone call.

“[It will read] ‘Answer the call. Your local or state health department’s going to be calling with important information about your health,'” Elvrum said.

A record 60,000 tests were processed in Minnesota over the weekend. Some claim this surge is simply because more people are getting tested. Elvrum debunks that myth.

“If you just increased testing, you would see more cases, but the positivity rate, had there not been more spread, would stay the same. But we’ve seen an increasing positivity rate, so that means there’s actually more virus, more people with it out,” he said.

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Starting Monday, anyone who receives a text after getting tested will also be provided with a number that MDH will be calling from so the incoming call will be recognized.

Contact tracers who call will only ask about symptoms, and who the person has been in contact with. They will not ask for a Social Security number, bank account information or credit card numbers. If the caller does, it is likely a scam.

Marielle Mohs

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