The state of Minnesota is opening a seventh saliva COVID-19 testing location on Friday.
The site, which will offer free testing to anyone who wants it, will be at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, marking the first saliva testing location to open in the Twin Cities.
“Minnesota is seeing an alarming jump in COVID-19 cases and neighboring states are seeing even worse,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “The good news is that Minnesotans have it in their power to make things better if everyone does their part.
"Testing is a key part of our strategy, and we’ve made great progress in removing obstacles to testing thanks to strong partnerships across the state," Malcolm added. "When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing helps us slow the spread of COVID-19 and move us closer to the day when we have safe and effective vaccines.”
The testing site in St. Paul is at 175 Kellogg Blvd. and will be open seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Appointments can be made via the Vault Health registration site here.
Limited free parking will be available for the testing site on the roof of the St. Paul RiverCentre ramp, with metered parking available in Rice Park.
“The Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul offers access to thousands of people across the east metro, as well as to those in the Twin Cities,” said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection. “Our COVID-19 numbers are moving in the wrong direction, but we still have a chance to turn the tide here in Minnesota if everyone does their part; we hope this increased access to testing will help people learn if they are positive for COVID-19 and to isolate when necessary.”
The state of Minnesota opened its first saliva testing location in Duluth in late September, and has since opened locations in Winona, Moorhead, Brooklyn Park, Mankato and St. Cloud. MDH plans to open at least three more testing sites in the Twin Cities metro in the coming weeks.
Testing is free to everyone regardless if you have insurance. If you do have insurance, you may be asked to present your insurance card, but if you don't you'll be allowed to test anyway. The state is paying for it all.
How the test works
When you get to your testing appointment, you will self-administer the test by spitting into a funnel attached to a small tube. Staff on-site will monitor the collection process to make sure there's enough saliva to be tested.
MDH says you shouldn't eat, drink, chew or smoke anything for at least 30 minutes prior to taking the test.
Saliva tests have the same effectiveness as the traditional nasal swab COVID-19 test, but they're more comfortable to take, MDH notes.
The tests will be processed at the state's new saliva lab in Oakdale, with results emailed within 24-48 hours, MDH says. The new lab opened this week, and it will have the capability to process up to 30,000 samples a day when at full capacity.
More information on the state's COVID-19 community saliva testing program, as well as how to make an appointment at every location, is available here. MDH also has resources to find other testing locations here.