The Minnesota Department of Health is continuing a statewide push to increase access to “no-barrier” COVID-19 testing with a seventh week of testing events in four towns around the state. MDH is partnering with local public health officials and other community partners to offer testing the week of Nov. 2 in Burnsville, Fergus Falls, Mora, and Pipestone. The Minnesota National Guard will continue providing logistical support for a number of these events.

As always with no-barrier testing opportunities, this testing will be free, available to anyone who wants to be tested whether they have symptoms or not, and will not require insurance. The four events next week are part of an ongoing effort to increase access to “no-barrier” COVID-19 testing following increased levels of community spread statewide.

“We continue to see an alarming level of community spread, particularly across Greater Minnesota,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “This isn’t caused by one or two big events. It’s driven by thousands of seemingly small decisions people are making every day without realizing the impact those decisions are having on their neighbors and their community. We are seeing that small, everyday gatherings and activities are leading to infections that can then spread into schools, school sports, long-term care facilities, businesses, and more. Many are trying to find the right balance between social connections and COVID-19 precautions, but the level of virus out there now means things that were less risky two months ago now carry more risk. We urge people to step up their efforts to follow guidelines for social distancing, wearing masks when in public, avoiding larger gatherings, staying home when sick, and seeking testing. Testing is one of the critical ways we can fight this virus, because if you get tested and learn you have COVID you can isolate, protect your friends and family, and stop the chain of spread.”

Health officials are using testing data to identify communities that are experiencing workplace clusters, are close to bordering states, or have not yet had larger-scale testing offered. Testing opportunities have been provided in Aitkin, Alexandria, Anoka, Bemidji, Bloomington, Cambridge, Cloquet, Crookston, Ely, Fairbault, Fairmont, Grand Rapids, Inver Grove Heights, Little Falls, Luverne, Madison, Maplewood, Marshall, Montevideo, Monticello, Moorhead, Pine City, Red Wing, St. Cloud, St. Joseph, Thief River Falls, Tyler, Waconia, Waseca, and Willmar.

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. These community testing sites are in addition to the new semi-permanent saliva testing sites now available to Minnesotans. Saliva testing sites are open in Brooklyn Park, Duluth, Moorhead, Mankato, St. Cloud, and Winona, with more planned for coming weeks. Both nasal and saliva testing are PCR tests, not to be confused with antigen testing.

Anyone who wants to be tested is encouraged to come, even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. No insurance or identification is needed. To avoid long lines, people are encouraged to pre-register for a time slot.

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