Saliva COVID-19 Testing Coming to Duluth Wednesday

It's all part of a pilot testing program from the state which they hope will help to decrease the spread of the pandemic.

DULUTH, Minn. – Nasal swabs are no longer the only option for people in the Northland getting tested for COVID-19.

Starting Wednesday, Minnesotans can get a free COVID test by just spitting into a vial that will be shipped to a laboratory.

It’s free regardless of whether anyone has symptoms.

It’s happening at the DECC in Duluth.

People will walk in and pick up a testing kit and will be directed to a table where they will spit into a vial.

Tuesday, members of the media, officials and elected representatives such as state representatives Liz Olson and Jennifer Schultz were given a chance to see the facility and get tested themselves.

“Free, fast you can come in whether you ahve symptoms or not,” says Mayor Emily Larson of Duluth.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the region, Minnesota’s first saliva COVID testing facility is opening in duluth.

It’s all part of a pilot testing program from the state which they hope will help to decrease the spread of the pandemic.

“Being able to provide people with fere testing means if they come back postiive they know what they need to do to make sure that we don’t continue spreading COVID,” says Anne O’Connor, who is a lead for community testing for the state.

It’s barrier-free testing, meaning no ID or insurance is necessary to get a test, but only Minnesota residents will be allowed to use this new resource for now.

Test results come back in 48-72 hours.

“It’s easy parking you can get in and out and for people to finally have some confidence where they are at in this pandemic is really important,” says Mayor Larson.

Anyone taking a test should not eat, drink, smoke, or chew anything for at least half an hour before giving a sample.

Officials say it takes about 8-10 minutes to fill up a vial of saliva.

“You have to fast for 30 minutes prior to taking the test prior to the fast it always makes it much easeir when you’re very hydrated,” says Shawn Baxley, the vice president of field operations for Vault Health.

Vault Health is the company out of New Jersey organizing and doing the saliva tests.

Mayor Larson says she hopes people will show up and utilize this great resource, adding that she knows how tough the uncertainty of COVID has been.

“It has felt really frustrating I don’t know if I should go get tested. If you don’t have the right symptoms or youc an’t get an appointemnt and taht’s really adding to the stress,” says Mayor Larson.

Right now, the vials of spit are shipped to a laboratory in New Jersey, but a lab is being built in Minnesota which will be ready in mid-October to test saliva samples done in the state.

Soon, Duluth won’t be the only saliva testing location and the state’s testing ability will increase by 30,000 tests a day.

“As part of that we’re estabilishing ten sites across the state to give Minnrsotans who may not have access to covid testing access on a weekly basis,” says O’Connor.

The facility is open Wednesday-Friday 12-7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Appointments are encouraged and can be made on the state’s website here.

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