Online ordering program available Tuesday for COVID-19 tests

Anyone wanting to order free, rapid COVID-19 tests can now do so.

Monday morning, Gov. Tim Walz announced a new program that allows those tests to be delivered to homes throughout the state.

According to the governor’s office, Minnesotans will be able to order two test kits — or four tests per home — through the system until all test kits have been ordered.

As of Monday morning, the state had 500,000 test kits – which equals 1 million at-home tests.

The kits became available for orders at 10 a.m. Tuesday and can be ordered by CLICKING HERE.

The Centers for Disease Control says you should test for COVID-19 if you:

  • Have symptoms of the coronavirus
  • Have had close contact with someone who tested positive
  • Are returning from domestic or international travel
  • Attended a high-risk event
  • Work in a setting that has regular, close contact with many people

Free tests may also be available at the following locations:

  • Food banks
  • Local public health agencies
  • Community groups
  • Community health organizations

Over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 test costs are required to be covered by health plans offered by insurance companies, employers as well as groups that are covered by actions taken by President Joe Biden.

As of Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported seven new deaths attributed to COVID-19, as well as 217 current hospitalizations.

View the complete update via the interactive infographic below or here.

“It’s very encouraging the number of cases in the hospital is going down substantially. It’s almost as low as it was between the two peaks,” said Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious disease specialist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

He stressed the vaccine remains important even though cases have been declining since mid-January.

“Omicron did something new than Delta, it could break through past infections and it could break through vaccines,” Rhame said. “BA.2 and BA.1 variant are good at breaking through past immunity, and so that’s why actually for the omicron variant you really need a third dose to maximize your protection.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.2 variant now represents about 30% of cases in Minnesota.

“We know it’s more infectious and that’s easy to tell because it’s replacing BA.1,” Rhame said. “We don’t really know fully yet what the BA.2 is going to do, and a lot of people are worried about that. I’m worried about that.”

In the Northeast, BA.2 represents more than 50% of the cases. The variant makes up about 40% of cases on the West Coast.

“It is supposed to be more transmissible than the original omicron,” said Dr. Raymund Razonable, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. “We still don’t know what the impact of it is. In terms of severe disease, it looks like it may be similar, although the data is still preliminary.”

He expects the Midwest will see an increase in BA.2 cases.

“We usually see the first waves on the coasts as well as on the south side but eventually they will get to us in the Midwest,” Razonable said. “We predict that sometime soon what they’re seeing there in terms of the BA.2 sub-variant is also going to be what we see here now.”

As the physician lead for monoclonal antibody treatment program at Mayo Clinic, he explained they’ve already had to update COVID treatments to adjust to the new variant.

“One of the treatments that has been most effective has been the monoclonal antibodies,” he said. “We are now at monoclonal antibody No. 5 just because as the virus mutates and develops these variants of concern, some of the older monoclonal antibodies we used to treat patients are no longer effective.”

Editor’s Note: Members of the Minnesota Department of Health announced the time tests will become available Tuesday morning. That time was not specified in the original news release.