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Amid surge in demand for COVID tests, state opening 2 new saliva testing sites in Twin Cities

They'll open in St. Paul and Bloomington at the end of August.

State health officials are opening two "semi-permanent" COVID testing sites in the Twin Cities.

The new locations, in St. Paul (175 West Kellogg Blvd., Roy Wilkins Auditorium) and Bloomington (9930 Logan Ave. S, former DMV), will offer free saliva testing, with results sent via email in 48-72 hours, the Department of Health (MDH) announced Friday. Walk-ins are available, but officials recommend making an appointment online.

Rather than a nasal swab, testing here will be saliva-based. No eating, drinking, chewing or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes beforehand, and you'll spit saliva into a small tube.

Related: Walz announces $100 rewards for those who get first COVID shots at State Fair

In addition, existing community testing sites in two cities will be moving to new locations.

The testing site at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato will be moving to the Minnesota National Guard Armory in the city starting Sept. 1. And in St. Cloud, the last day of testing at River’s Edge Convention Center is Aug. 31, with testing resuming at the St. Cloud Armory Sept. 2.

MDH said there has been a rising demand for COVID testing in the state recently, likely due to the spread of the delta variant. While still below the winter 2020-21 peaks, the number of daily completed tests is climbing again, after taking a significant dip during June and July of this year.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, in an MDH statement, called continued testing "a key component" of the state's strategy to combat COVID-19.  

“Through a robust, collaborative testing program, we have removed many obstacles to testing for communities across the state," Malcolm said. "Combined with social distancing, masking, and staying home when sick, testing can help us slow the spread of the Delta variant as we continue to get as many folks vaccinated as possible." 

The Bloomington site will open on Aug. 30, with testing available Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. The new St. Paul location will be open on Aug. 31, with testing available from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

MDH's website currently shows seven active community testing sites across the state: Duluth, Brooklyn Park, Moorhead, Winona Mall, MSP Airport, Mankato and St. Cloud. Those are in addition to the dozens of health care provider or pharmacy testing locations currently available.

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