Updated: October 13, 2020 04:34 PM
Created: October 13, 2020 03:36 PM
Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials addressed an array of topics during Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing, including an update on new saliva-based testing locations, a new Oakdale lab to process saliva testing and the possibility of dialing back openings.
Saliva testing sites:
Minnesota will be opening a number of saliva testing sites around the state in the coming days and weeks, said MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff.
A site at Duluth Entertainment Convention Center is currently open and runs Wednesday through Sunday; a facility at Winona Mall will open Wednesday and run Wednesday through Sunday; a facility at the former Thomas Edison High School in Moorhead will open Saturday and run Friday through Tuesday; and, a location will open at Starlite Center in Brooklyn Park on Oct. 20 and run seven days per week.
MDH is finalizing details to open up six additional sites around the state later this month as well. Two locations would be in greater Minnesota and four would be in the metro area.
Each of the testing sites will employ 10 to 20 Minnesotans.
The actual saliva testing for these sites will be conducted at a new lab located in Oakdale. The lab has the capacity to run up to 30,000 saliva tests per day, according to MDH, and will employ an additional 250 Minnesotans. Once the lab is fully operational, the state will be able to process up to 60,000 tests per day.
MDH noted that saliva testing is still a PCR test like the nasal swab tests and is within a percentage point or two of accuracy to the nasal swab tests.
Along with actual testing locations, MDH is starting a pilot program in certain parts of the state for mail-order saliva tests. Officials hope to expand this statewide if the pilot program is successful, with the hope being it could expand next month.
More information about community saliva testing can be found at the link here.
Dialing back openings:
Walz noted on the call that Minnesota is surrounded by states dealing with some of the highest current spread of COVID-19 in the country. He noted that it's a major reason why testing is important, to try and stem the spread early on, but also noted that the potential to dial back is possible in the future.
Walz didn't go into detail on what a potential dial back could look like but said it would be targeted based on where the spread is coming from. He urged people to follow the science on masking, social distancing and following all the guidelines in place to help stop the spread of the virus.
Watch Tuesday's full call below:
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