Another week and another COVID-19 saliva testing site is opening as Minnesota continues to expand testing in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
This week, on Wednesday, a saliva testing facility will open in St. Cloud. It'll be at River's Edge Convention Center, located at 10 Fourth Ave. S., and will be open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 7 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“St. Cloud is a hub for Central Minnesota, offering access to thousands of people who live and work in the area, as well as thousands of college students who live here,” said Dan Huff, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health.
“In recent weeks, we’ve seen a spike in cases in and around St. Cloud, so we hope this increased access to testing will help people learn if they are positive for COVID and to isolate when necessary," Huff added.
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.
St. Cloud is now home to the sixth of 10 planned saliva testing sites to be open in Minnesota. A clinic was open in Mankato last week. Prior to that, there were saliva sites opened in Duluth, Winona, Moorhead and Brooklyn Park.
Four more saliva testing sites are expected to open in the Twin Cities metro area in the coming week, according to the health department.
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.
Walz touted the state's saliva testing program during an interview he did with CNN last week as one of the things people can do to help control the virus, adding that this type of testing strategy is needed on the national level.
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.