Hundreds gather at the DECC for Day 1 of COVID-19 saliva testing |

Hundreds gather at the DECC for Day 1 of COVID-19 saliva testing

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: September 23, 2020 06:29 PM

Wednesday has been a busy day in Duluth with the first COVID-19 saliva testing site in the state kicking off. Hundreds of Minnesotans took advantage of the free testing happening at the DECC.

Access to COVID-19 testing just got easier for Minnesotans with the launch of the testing site happening inside Paulucci Hall.

"We started testing at 11:30 a.m. today 30 minutes prior to the scheduled opening and we already have over 500 registrations," said Anne O' Connor, who is overseeing the state's COVID-19 Community Testing Response.

"We saw it advertised on the news and we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to get it done," said Kathy Eiler, who was in line with her husband to get tested. The couple is visiting the Northland from Bloomington.

Since the testing is free people are taking advantage of it. The DECC was busy managing lines extending outside of the building.

"To see so many people wanting to be here shows that there was a need in the Duluth area for free covid testing and we're really happy to play a part in that and to provide a solution to that issue," said O' Connor.

There's 20 stations set up inside the clinic and the test process takes about 10 minutes. Staff believe it will continue to stay busy these next couple of days.

Jason Feldman, the co-founder and CEO of Vault Health, said the saliva test has a 99 percent effective rate.

"I think everybody should do it symptoms or not because you can be a carrier and not know," said Eiler.

Thankfully, testing at the DECC will continue to be offered through the end of the year five days a week and there's plans to expand testing with nine more sites across the state.

"The State of Minnesota has partnered with Vault Health to create a lab which will be located in the Twin Cities. With that extra capacity the state will be able to test 30,000 more people each day," said O' Connor.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 690 new cases of COVID-19 and six covid related deaths Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases across the state since the pandemic began at 92,100 and 1,985 confirmed deaths.

Health leaders said getting ahead of it by offering this testing in large quantities will help in slowing down the spread by identifying positive cases early.

"We need to curb it and the only way you can curb it is to wear your mask, doing social distancing and get tested," said Eiler.

Testing will be available Wednesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

People are asked to not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum 30 minutes prior to testing.

It's also highly recommended to register ahead of time so people aren't waiting as long in line. Click here to register.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday over 500 tests had been done. 

Results come back between 48 to 72 hours via email. Test tubes for now are being shipped to the Vault Lab in New Jersey. The lab in Oakdale is expected to open in mid October.


Alejandra Palacios

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