The State of Minnesota today announced it will open a saliva testing site on Monday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This will be the eighth in the state, offering free saliva tests to any Minnesotan who believes they need to be tested.
“What’s happening in Minnesota right now is alarming,” said Minnesota Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We are seeing record numbers of new cases every few days. And it’s because we’re falling behind the rapid spread of this virus. This is truly a statewide outbreak, and we encourage anyone who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to visit one of these no-barrier testing sites. Testing is a key part of our strategy, and we’ve made great progress in removing obstacles to testing thanks to strong partnerships across the state. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing helps us slow the spread of COVID-19 and move us closer to the day when we have safe and effective vaccines.”
Testing will be located at the Minneapolis Convention Center, at 1301 2nd Ave. South in downtown Minneapolis. Those coming for testing should enter on the west side of the building off 1st Avenue, then continue to exhibit room E. Free parking will be available and marked in nearby surface lots and parking ramps.
Due to expected demand, testing will be available seven days a week, noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The State of Minnesota and Vault Health will reevaluate hours of each site as others open and demand waxes and wanes with disease progression in Minnesota. Appointments can be made through the Vault Health registration site.
The state opened the first saliva testing site in Duluth on Sept. 23. Since then, saliva testing locations have opened in Winona, Moorhead, Brooklyn Park, Mankato, St. Cloud, and Saint Paul. State officials plan to open at least two more in the Twin Cities metro area in coming weeks. Those tests will be processed right here in Minnesota, at the new saliva lab in Oakdale. Results will be provided via email within 24-48 hours.
“The Minneapolis Convention Center offers access to thousands of people in the heart of the metro,” said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection. “Our COVID-19 numbers are moving in the wrong direction, but we still have a chance to turn the tide here in Minnesota if everyone does their part; we hope this increased access to testing will help people learn if they are positive for COVID-19 and to isolate when necessary.”
Testing is free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID-19 test, including those who are asymptomatic. Participants will be asked for their health insurance information so the state can bill their insurance company on their behalf. If a person is uninsured or for any reason insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains completely free to everyone.
“We’re glad to have another COVID-19 testing option in our community,” said Hennepin County Public Health Director Susan Palchick. “This new site will make it easier for people to access testing, to know if they’re positive, and to take steps to protect themselves and others."
“This is a welcome additional source of testing for those who live or work in our community,” said Gretchen Musicant, Minneapolis Health Commissioner. “Because it will be open seven days a week without barriers it is an important resource as we work to stem the rising number of COVID-19 cases.”
The same saliva test was also recently made available to 23 counties and the Red Lake Nation through the COVID-19 Test at Home Program The service will be available soon to all Minnesotans statewide.
The saliva test is a PCR test, just like the traditional nasal swab, with the same effectiveness rate; however, it is more comfortable to take. Those who come for a test should avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample. Once they arrive at the site, they will self-administer the test by spitting into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process and ensure there is enough saliva to be tested.
“Our strategy to managing the virus continues to be proactive, data-driven, and aggressive,” continued Huff. “A higher testing capacity, combined with masking, social distancing, and isolation when appropriate, is critical to that strategy. Our work to bring saliva testing to Minnesotans is an important supplement to the COVID testing options already offered across the state. Growing and diversifying our testing options is a tool to keeping Minnesotans safe.”
For more information about the saliva testing site in Minneapolis, please visit COVID-19 Saliva Community Testing Sites.