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Free COVID-19 saliva testing site to open in St. Cloud

St. Cloud Times logo St. Cloud Times 10/27/2020 From Staff Reports, St. Cloud Times
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ST. CLOUD — A free saliva testing site will open in St. Cloud on Wednesday, marking the sixth site in the state and the fifth in greater Minnesota, according to a release from the Minnesota Department of Health. 

Testing will be free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID test, including those who are asymptomatic.

The site, at River's Edge Convention Center at 10 Fourth Ave. S, will be open noon-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

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Appointments can be made at mncovidtestingappt.as.me/schedule.php. Results will be provided by email within 24-48 hours.

“Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm stated in a news release. “The continued increase in cases across Greater Minnesota, tied to small, everyday gatherings, is very concerning.

Samples are collected from community members during a Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 testing clinic Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. © Dave Schwarz, dschwarz@stcloudtimes.com Samples are collected from community members during a Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 testing clinic Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.

"Minnesota has made great progress in removing obstacles to testing for all Minnesotans through a robust, collaborative statewide testing program," she continued. "When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing helps us slow the spread of COVID-19 and bridge to the better days we know are coming.”

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, and Mankato. 

Officials are planning to open as many as four more sites in the Twin Cities metro. The tests are processed at the state's new saliva lab in Oakdale. 

The saliva test is a PCR test, just like the traditional nasal swab, with the same effectiveness rate.

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.

MORE: Walz announces expansion of the state's saliva testing program

The same saliva test was 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.

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.

“St. Cloud is a hub for Central Minnesota, offering access to thousands of people who live and work in the area, as well as thousands of college students who live here,” stated Dan Huff, assistant commissioner for health protection. “In recent weeks, we’ve seen a spike in cases in and around St. Cloud, so we hope this increased access to testing will help people learn if they are positive for COVID and to isolate when necessary.”

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This article originally appeared on St. Cloud Times: Free COVID-19 saliva testing site to open in St. Cloud

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