Health officials push COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated Americans ahead of 4th of July

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The first 4th of July post-pandemic is almost upon us.

As we prepare to celebrate our country’s freedom with gatherings, parades and firework shows, health officials are recommending that those who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19 get tested prior to and after being in crowds as part of a larger push for routine testing.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends unvaccinated people get tested every two weeks.

“It’s still really important to be tested on a regular basis if you’re out in the community,” Amy Westbrook, Public Health Division Director for St. Louis County said.

According to Westbrook, 56% of the population in St. Louis County has been vaccinated. The remaining 44% includes a large number of children 12 and under, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Because some children are asymptomatic to COVID-19, Westbrook said getting them tested is especially important.

“Testing has been and continues to be a key part of mitigating transmission,” Westbrook said.

Additionally, Westbrook said testing can also help identify and control new variants of COVID-19.

“It certainly is a key strategy for identifying where and when different variants are circulating,” Westbrook said.

Those planning to travel who have not been vaccinated should get tested and those planning to travel outside the country should get tested even if they have been vaccinated.

There are still a variety of places people can get tested here locally, including St. Luke’s, Essentia Health and the DECC. People are encouraged to make appointments.

The Minnesota Department of Health also offers at home mail-in testing.