Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday, Oct. 20, a further expansion of rapid testing availability at community sites across Minnesota.
This week, the state is launching new COVID-19 community rapid testing sites in Stillwater, Crookston, and Hutchinson. The site in Stillwater opened Wednesday and the sites in Crookston and Hutchinson will open on Thursday. New rapid testing sites will also launch next week in Inver Grove Heights, Wadena, Hibbing, and Albert Lea to serve Minnesotans in the community. The sites are being supported by the Minnesota National Guard.
The state will also begin offering rapid tests at existing community saliva testing locations in Moorhead and St. Paul (Roy Wilkins) beginning on Wednesday and in Brooklyn Park and Duluth beginning Friday. More details about rapid testing options at additional existing saliva sites will be available next week.
“Minnesotans are working hard to navigate daycare, school, and work — and they need the reassurance and ease of rapid testing to keep their lives on track,” Walz said in a news release. “That’s why we are expanding our testing offerings and launching new testing sites in the metro and Greater Minnesota to meet folks where they are. By helping Minnesotans get the speedy test results they need, we are taking action to make sure Minnesotans have access to rapid testing options at our free community testing network.”
“Testing for COVID-19 helps keep our kids safe in the classroom and workers protected on the job,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, in the release. “Rapid testing is just what Minnesota parents need right now, and that’s why we are standing up new sites across Minnesota to get more free rapid tests to Minnesota families.”
"The Minnesota National Guard's motto is 'Always Ready, Always There' and demonstrates our commitment to support Minnesota citizens," said Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard's Adjutant General. "We have supported public health activities since March 2020 with varying levels of personnel and activities and are prepared to do so, again."
"On Wednesday, Governor Walz requested Minnesota National Guard support for community-based testing sites in the metro and outstate locations," said Army Col. Scott Rohweder, Minnesota National Guard's Director of Operations. "The service members will be broken into seven teams assisting civil authorities at various sites with conducting testing facility management, performing administrative tasks, and administering COVID-19 tests."
To help Minnesotans access free, quick testing resources in their communities, the governor has activated the National Guard to help stand up these new community rapid testing sites. These sites will allow Minnesotans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to take an antigen test and receive results in a matter of hours.
In addition to the new state rapid testing sites and rapid options at existing state saliva sites, last week Walz announced additional COVID-19 rapid testing opportunities in partnership with local public health agencies around the state. Sixteen local public health agencies across the state are deploying rapid tests provided by the Minnesota Department of Health, some of which will be used at community testing clinics, while others will be used for targeted testing efforts. Participating agencies will announce their testing plans and appointments processes.
The Walz-Flanagan administration steadily expanded testing capacity throughout Minnesota to meet increasing demand for COVID-19 tests. To tackle the delta variant, the state opened new community sites in Bloomington, Lino Lakes, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Morris since August. The state added weekend testing and doubled capacity at the Duluth community testing site. Additionally, the state added Friday testing at the state sites in Mankato and St. Cloud, and Sunday testing at the Moorhead and Winona sites.
The state continues to assess current and projected testing needs and will work to execute its comprehensive approach to ensure every Minnesotan has access to free testing to keep their families and communities safe.
Testing is free at all of the state’s community testing sites. Participants who have health insurance will be asked for their insurance information so the state can bill their insurance company on their behalf. If a person is uninsured or if insurance does not cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference, ensuring testing remains open to all at no cost.
Testing at the state’s new rapid sites is recommended for symptomatic Minnesotans and is open to Minnesotans with or without insurance. State guidance on who should get tested can be found on the COVID-19 Testing webpage.
While walk-ins are welcome, people seeking testing at state sites can schedule a test as well. Rapid test results will be available within approximately 1-3 hours of processing.