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COVID In MN: Feds To Convert Several Testing Sites To Provide Antiviral Treatment

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The White House is taking steps to make the antiviral treatment Paxlovid more accessible as it projects COVID-19 infections will continue to spread over the summer travel season.

On Thursday, the nation's first federally-backed test-to-treat site opens in Rhode Island where they can immediately give people Paxlovid once they test positive.

In the coming days, federal workers will be coming to Minnesota to turn several of state-run testing sites into these test-to-treat sites.

RELATED: More COVID-19 Coverage

"This direct federal support will allow Minnesota to expand the capacity and reach of Test-to-Treat, making these lifesaving oral antiviral treatments more widely available statewide," the White House said.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said it will soon be announcing which sites will be converted.

"The sites will continue to test all Minnesotans at no cost. Once the test-to-treat transformation is complete, Minnesotans who test positive for COVID-19 will be evaluated on-site by a clinician and given a prescription for COVID antiviral medication if it is deemed appropriate. Those medications will also come at no cost to Minnesotans," MDH said.

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(credit: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Federal officials say the oral antiviral pill is one of the most effective treatments for COVID-19, and reduces risk of hospitalization or death by about 90%.

Read more about the federally-supported test-to-treat sites here.

MDH's Thursday COVID-19 Update

Health officials on Thursday reported 2,170 more confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine deaths attributed to the virus.

There have now been over 1.5 million cases reported in the state since the pandemic began, and 12,619 deaths.

A major point of interest that health officials consider – the state's case growth rate – now appears to be decreasing after a recent spike. It's now at 34 daily new cases per 100,000 residents, as of earlier this month. While it's decreasing, it's still well above the high risk threshold of 10.

Over 70% of the state's population has received at least one vaccine dose, with over 10 million vaccine doses administered.

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