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MDH launches push to increase access to “no barrier” COVID-19 testing

MDH launches push to increase access to “no barrier” COVID-19 testing

KAAL-TV
Created: September 17, 2020 03:26 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will launch a four-week effort to provide increased access to “no barrier” COVID-19 testing in communities across the state, beginning the week of Sept. 21. 

State health officials will work with local health officials and other community partners to offer free COVID-19 testing in multiple communities each week, with four to six separate community testing events spread throughout the state each week. 

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Testing will be free, available to anyone who feels they need to be tested whether they have symptoms or not, and will not require insurance.

“The troublesome trends in our neighboring states are a reminder of how quickly we could go from walking the cliff’s edge to tumbling over it,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We are deeply concerned about the spike of cases in communities all over the state where people don’t know how they contracted the virus. Community spread driven by people who don’t know they have it puts those most vulnerable to the worst complications at grave risk. It’s more critical than ever to test a lot of people and identify positive cases early to slow that spread. Testing lets us know who needs to isolate and who else may be at risk.”

Health officials are using testing data to identify communities that are experiencing workplace clusters, are close to bordering states, or haven’t yet had larger-scale testing offered. This strategy will help increase the geographic balance of testing across Minnesota and respond where the health risk is greatest.

“Our state’s already strong testing capacity is allowing us to be proactive in our testing strategy,” said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at MDH. “With this targeted push, we’re able to identify clusters of cases - whether they’re from weddings, funerals, backyard BBQs, Labor Day activities, going back to school, or being in the workplace, intervening now will prevent further spread and outbreaks.”
Testing will be done with a nasal swab, processed either by Mayo Clinic Laboratories or the University of Minnesota, through the lab capacity created by the testing partnership.

The National Guard will help to provide some staffing and logistical support for the increased testing push. The Guard was previously activated for testing at long-term care facilities.

Widespread access to testing followed by isolating those who are positive, and quarantining close contacts is a proven strategy for controlling spread and keeping businesses and schools open as much as possible going into the fall.

Week one of targeted testing includes:

  • Sept. 23

10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Itasca County Fairgrounds
1336 Fairgrounds Rd, Grand Rapids
Drive-thru
Registration link: Itasca County Community COVID-19 Testing: Schedule Appointment

  • Sept. 23-24

12-6 p.m.
Pine City Armory
1305 Main St, Pine City
Walk-up
Registration link: Pine City Community Testing: Schedule Appointment

  • Sept. 23-24

12-6 p.m.
Waseca High School Gym
1717 2nd St NW, Waseca
Walk-up
Registration link: Waseca Community Testing: Schedule Appointment
 


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