St. Cloud saliva testing site to open Wednesday

Minnesota’s sixth COVID-19 saliva testing location will open Wednesday in St. Cloud, the Minnesota Department of Health announced Tuesday.

The testing site will be located at River’s Edge Convention Center, at 10 Fourth Avenue South in St. Cloud, and will operate from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Appointments can be made online.

The St. Cloud site follows the opening of sites in Winona, Moorhead, Brooklyn Park, Mankato and Duluth. MDH said it expects to open up to four more COVID-19 saliva testing sites in the Twin Cities metro in the coming weeks.

Results will be provided within 24 to 48 hours with tests being processed at the state’s new lab in Oakdale.

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"Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19," said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "The continued increase in cases across Greater Minnesota, tied to small, everyday gatherings, is very concerning. Minnesota has made great progress in removing obstacles to testing for all Minnesotans through a robust, collaborative statewide testing program. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing helps us slow the spread of COVID-19 and bridge to the better days we know are coming."

"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," Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection, added. "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."

Testing is free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID-19 test, including those who are asymptomatic. Participants will be asked for their health insurance information so the state can bill their insurance company but those who are uninsured — or for any reason if insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost — the state will cover the difference so testing remains completely free to everyone.

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Those who take a saliva test should avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample.

The same saliva test was also recently made available to 23 counties and the Red Lake Nation through the COVID-19 Test at Home Program. The service will soon be available to all Minnesotans statewide, MDH said.

"Our strategy to managing the virus continues to be proactive, data-driven, and aggressive," Huff added. "A higher testing capacity, combined with masking, social distancing, and isolation when appropriate, is critical to that strategy. Our work to bring saliva testing to Minnesotans is an important supplement to the COVID testing options already offered across the state. Growing and diversifying our testing options is a tool to keeping Minnesotans safe."

For more information about the saliva testing site in St. Cloud, click here.