Minnesota’s first COVID-19 saliva testing site opening in Duluth

Updated: September 22, 2020 05:04 PM

Duluth is the spot the state is opening a pilot saliva testing site to help during this COVID-19 pandemic. It will be at the DECC, in Paulucci Hall, and the first of its kind in Minnesota. The first day is Wednesday.

"I think a lot of people think of the DECC as a place they go for a hockey game or a concert, but we really are the 21st century version of the community armory. We're a place that people know, that people gather, that people can come if they need to shelter in addition to those entertainment sorts of things," said DECC Interim Executive Director Roger Reinert.

Testing is free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID-19 test, including those who do not have symptoms.

While they will be asked about their insurance, this is so the state can bill the insurance company. If a person does not have insurance or insurance doesn't cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains completely free to everyone. 

During the testing, regular events will go on as scheduled, but Reinert says the testing is in a safe, contained spot.

"This is a critical community need so it's not only a great fit for our mission, but it's really great for the community, and the region to have this taking place," said Reinert.

The state plans to open as many as nine more sites across the state like the one planned for the DECC. This pilot opening will give state and local health officials a chance to see what kind of demand to expect for the additional saliva test sites in coming weeks.

“These semi-permanent sites are not meant to replace the COVID testing options already available to Minnesotans. This is an additional option to make COVID testing even more readily available to all,” said Dan Huff, MDH Assistant Commissioner for Health Protection. 

The Duluth site will be open five days a week, Wednesday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 pm.

While it is open to walk-ins, people are encouraged to register in advance to make an appointment if they're able, to prevent crowding and long lines.

Appointments can be made through the registration website. Thirty minutes of free parking in the lot outside the testing site is available to anyone who drives to the testing site.

Those who come for a test should avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample.

Once at the site, they will self-administer the test by spitting into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process and ensure there is enough saliva to be tested.

For more info: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/testsites/saliva.html

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