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Demand For Community COVID-19 Testing Rises Amid Recent Surge

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Across the state, demand for COVID-19 testing is on the rise again.

With kids getting back to school and the spread of Delta variant, the Minnesota Department of Health is making walk-in testing available again at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.

The former DVM building on Logan Avenue in Bloomington is also open for testing, and Mankato and St. Cloud testing sites have been relocated to Armory buildings as well.

Janis Jaja was seen Tuesday morning with her two grandkids at Roy Wilkins in St. Paul. The three got tested for COVID-19.

"The younger one was exposed by his teacher at the YMCA," Jaja said.

David Gusakov walked out of the same building minutes later after flying in from Vermont for a memorial service.

"Testing is absolutely critical," Gusakov said. "To help protect people from getting the disease like our grandkids."

The Minnesota Department of Health reports 11,712 completed tests last Monday alone. That number is expected to grow as the Delta variant spreads.

"We've seen since a month ago, a doubling in the number of Minnesotans coming to our community testing sites to be tested," said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for the Health Protection Bureau. "We have capacity to ramp up our testing and that's what we're doing."

Hundreds of testing locations can be found on the MDH website including pharmacies and hospitals. You can also get a testing kit sent to your home. Whether MDH opens up new testing sites depends on the need.

"We have great testing capacity but what we're looking at is do we have access? Is there a testing desert anywhere, where we have Minnesotans who don't have good access to testing and say 'hey maybe we need to open up a regional center to help them'," Huff said.

The state is also partnered with schools to provide money and free testing for k-12 schools across Minnesota.

The state is reporting a rise in COVID breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated Minnesotans as well. In the last week, MDH reports roughly 30% of COVID cases were vaccine breakthroughs. During the months of May and June, there were under 10% of weekly cases as vaccine breakthroughs.

MDH said fully vaccinated people are returning to normal activities as if the pandemic is over leading to more exposure. Health officials want to remind people that no vaccine is 100% effective and the Delta variant is more transmissible.

"With the current level of spread, all teachers, staff and students not vaccinated should be tested weekly," Huff said.

He urges people to get tested if they've been exposed, have symptoms or have been in close contact with large crowds that don't live with them.

Minnesota health officials say it usually takes less than 48 hours to get COVID results if you use state testing sites. However, it could take longer at external sites, depending on where you go.

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