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The state is offering free COVID tests at 21 community testing sites in January

Testing is a key strategy in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is offering free COVID-19 testing at 21 community testing sites in the month of January. 

These semi-permanent community testing sites across the state are part of Minnesota's strategy to prevent the further spread of the virus, which has sickened more than 410,000 Minnesotans and killed more than 5,100 people in the state since the pandemic began.

“Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement Tuesday. “Through a robust, collaborative statewide testing program, we have made great progress in removing obstacles to testing. 

"When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing can help us slow the spread of COVID-19 and bridge to the better days we know are coming," she added. 

Community testing is being offered in the following cities in the month of January: Albert Lea, Anoka, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Crookston, Duluth, Hibbing, Hutchinson, Inver Grove Heights, MSP Airport, Mankato, Minneapolis, Moorhead, Morris, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Stillwater, Wadena, Winona and Worthington.

Each testing site is offering saliva testing for free, regardless of if people have symptoms or insurance. Those seeking a test will be asked for their health insurance information so the state can bill their insurance, but if a person is uninsured or if their insurance doesn't cover the cost of the test, the state will pay for it. 

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 lab in Oakdale, with results emailed within 48-72 hours, MDH says. 

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.

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