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First metro saliva testing facility opens in Brooklyn Park

RADIO.COM logo RADIO.COM 10/19/2020
a group of people standing in a room © Provided by RADIO.COM

Starting Tuesday, the first of five walk-in saliva testing sites set up by the Minnesota Department of Health will be up and running, further adding to Minnesota's COVID-19 testing capacity.

It's as easy as walking in, registering and spitting.

The former Office Max on Brooklyn Blvd in Brooklyn Park has been converted into a testing warehouse.

The PCR tests feature the same reliability and accuracy as as a nasal swab test, just without the discomfort.

Assistant Health Commissioner Dan Huff and the department have long stressed the role of testing in containing the spread of the virus.

a group of people in a room: saliva test © Provided by RADIO.COM saliva test

"We want to make sure that, if I'm infected, I need to know I'm infected so I can stay home and stay away from loved ones and other folks that may get sick," he said. "It's also important so that the people I've been in contact with can quarantine and know to look for symptoms in case they have gotten infected from me."

Multiple tables with hand sanitizer and disinfectant are spread across the floor. Workers wear masks and shields to help assist the process starting with scanning a QR code while in line to register personal and insurance information.

They'll walk you through opening up the kit, checking if you've added enough saliva - about a tablespoon. Then you twist on a cap and shake up the chemical with the saliva and done. The process wraps up on your phone.

Jason Feldman, the CEO of Vault Health which is partnering with the state to conduct the tests, praised Minnesota's commitment to accessible testing.

"If you're going to be at work or at school or play and you're worried, you need to know where to get a test just to be surem" he said. "What Minnesota has done a great job of is placing these testing centers in all the communities where people can reach them as fast as possible."

Appointments made through the MDH website are preferred but walk-ins are welcome. Those being tested shouldn't eat, drink, smoke or chew gum at least 30 minutes before. No one, even those uninsured, will be billed.

Five sites will be running soon throughout greater Minnesota. Ones in Duluth, Moorhead and Winona already are. The Brooklyn Park location is open 7 days a week, 12-7 p.m. weekdays and 10 to 4 p.m. weekends. Results will be returned within 24 to 48 hours.

A lab in Oakdale is set to open in the coming weeks as well. MDH officials expect to be able to test and process up to 60-thousand tests a day. Minnesota hit a single-day high Friday testing 44,000 residents.

Minnesota is also set to launch a pilot program for at-home testing.

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