Gov. Tim Walz has announced that free COVID-19 saliva tests will be made available to teachers, school staff, and childcare workers across the state.
More than 250,000 of the tests will be provided to school and childcare employees as classes prepare to resume across the state, with thousands of unique codes emailed to schools and daycares allowing them to request a test.
That is enough for one test per employee under the state program, with workers urged to only request a test when they need it – such as when they're symptomatic for COVID-19 or if they've been exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive.
The tests, which requires the patient spit into a funnel while being supervised over a Zoom call, before mailing the sample for analysis, are being provided via a state partnership with Vault Health and Infinity Biologix.
Once an employee has used a saliva test under the program, they won't be allowed to request another, instead they will have to seek out a test with their medical provider or another testing location.
The state is telling teachers, staff and childcare workers that the tests must be used by the end of 2020, but it's exploring options to extend access for the rest of the 2020-21 school year.
The state is also rolling out saliva tests statewide later in the year, with the partnership with Vault and Infinity allowing Minnesota to process an additional 30,000 COVID-19 samples a day by early October.
“A central part of our state’s COVID strategy is testing,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
"Adding saliva testing to our testing ecosystem both grows and diversifies our testing capacity. Teachers, school staff, child care center employees have a responsibility to get tested if they believe they’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or are feeling symptoms themselves. We hope this test will provide a convenient, reliable, and quick option for them."