Anyone who wants or needs a COVID-19 saliva test can soon get one for free at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The Convention Center, located at 1301 2nd Ave. S. in downtown Minneapolis, will be open seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. It opens Monday.
People going to the Convention Center for a test are encouraged to follow signs to park for free in nearby surface lots and parking ramps. Once parked, people should enter the building on the west side, off of 1st Avenue. Appointments can be made through the Vault Health registration site.
Minnesota is opening 10 saliva testing sites throughout the state in an effort to better handle what has become a rapidly worsening COVID-19 situation, with new cases daily this week exceeding 3,000, including nearly 4,000 in Thursday's update from the state health department.
“What’s happening in Minnesota right now is alarming,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, in a release. “We are seeing record numbers of new cases every few days. And it’s because we’re falling behind the rapid spread of this virus. This is truly a statewide outbreak, and we encourage anyone who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to visit one of these no-barrier testing sites."
The key to testing is to inform people who have COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, that they need to isolate in order to avoid spreading the virus to others. Without testing, asymptomatic people can spread the virus unknowingly.
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, St. Cloud and St. Paul (at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium). MDH plans to open at least two 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 lab 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.