1st COVID-19 saliva testing site to open Wednesday in Duluth

1st COVID-19 saliva testing site to open Wednesday in Duluth Photo: FILE.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: September 21, 2020 02:33 PM
Created: September 21, 2020 01:22 PM

Minnesota's first pilot saliva testing site will open Wednesday in Duluth, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday.

The testing site will be at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and will offer free saliva tests to any Minnesota who believes they need to be tested.

MDH said it plans to open as many as nine more sites across the state to give health officials a chance to see what kind of demand they should expect for additional saliva testing sites in the coming weeks.

"Our battle against COVID-19 is far from over," MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. "The high number of new cases we've seen in recent days shows the outbreak could quickly spread out of control, so it's important to stay a step or two ahead. Innovative partnerships are one of the ways we do that. This next milestone allows us to expand and diversify our testing options available to Minnesotans. Increased access to testing and identifying positive cases as early as possible is a critical way to keep schools and the economy as open as possible. While testing alone will not suppress the virus, higher testing volumes are a central part of our strategy to manage the virus."

Walz announces plan for COVID-19 saliva testing lab in Minnesota, could process another 30,000 tests per day

The testing site in Duluth will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Walk-ins are allowed but people are encouraged to register in advance to make an appointment, if possible.

Results are typically provided by email within 24-48 hours of the samples arriving at the lab for processing, MDH said.

Those who get tested should avoid eating, drinking, chewing or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample, MDH said. 

The site in Duluth will be operated by Vault Health, which has run similar sites across the country. Local staff will be hired to operate the site but the samples will be shipped to Vault Health's New Jersey lab for the time being. However, MDH said the state's partnership includes the creation of a saliva lab in Minnesota. The lab, located in Oakdale, is expected to open in mid-October and be able to process up to 30,000 samples per day.

You can find more information on the saliva testing site here.

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