MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As COVID-19 cases surge in Minnesota, a free saliva testing site is slated to open Monday in Minneapolis.
The testing site will open at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It'll operate seven days a week, noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Anyone can get tested. No insurance or symptoms are necessary. However, officials ask that people bring their insurance cards if they have one.
Saliva tests are less-invasive than the nasal swabs, but just as effective at detecting the virus, officials say. The tests are self-administered and take just minutes to complete. The tests are processed at a facility in the Twin Cities, and results are returned within 24 to 48 hours.
Gov. Tim Walz was at the Minneapolis Convention Center Monday morning where he announced the significant expansion in access to COVID-19 testing.
"Over the last week, Minnesotans saw our COVID-19 positivity rate climb higher than ever before. We have entered a dangerous phase of this pandemic, and our testing strategy is key to controlling the spread," Walz said. "So many people are spreading the virus before they know they have it. That's why we've seen great demand for testing across the state, and today's announcement brings us closer to getting the virus under control."
The Minneapolis site is one of eight free saliva testing sites now open across the state. The first opened in Duluth in September. Since then, more have opened in Winona, Moorhead, Brooklyn Park, Mankato, St. Cloud, and St. Paul.
Another saliva testing site is set to open at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday, Walz announced Monday.
The Minnesota National Guard will also be operating another 11 sites, which will open next week, in a partnership with local health officials. Those sites, a mix of saliva and nasal PCR tests, are expected to remain open through the end of the year. Ten of the 11 sites will be in armories. Specific locations will be announced later this week.
Testing allows health officials to track the spread of the virus in Minnesota. In the last week, the state has seen a massive increase in cases, with single-day records being broken almost every day. Sunday's tally for new infections was near 6,000.
While health officials are weighing whether or not to impose more COVID-19 restrictions, they are encouraging Minnesotans to continue to social distance, wear masks and seek testing.
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