Healthcare workers screen a patient for COVID-19 at a drive-through coronavirus testing site on March 18 in Virginia. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
More than a dozen free COVID-19 testing sites will open across the state in the next two weeks, Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday.
The tests will be free to anyone regardless of symptoms or insurance, according to the governor’s office.
The announcement comes after a series of record-breaking highs among daily new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
“We have entered a dangerous phase of this pandemic, and our testing strategy is key to controlling the spread,” Walz said in a statement.
Walz made the announcement at the newly opened saliva testing site at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Eleven additional sites, which will offer a combination of nasal and saliva tests, will be operated by the Minnesota National Guard. Most of the sites are expected to be inside armories and will be open five days a week until at least the end of the year.
The state will also partner with the Metropolitan Airports Commission to provide saliva tests at the MSP airport seven days a week. That location is expected to open Thursday.
Officials said a mail-order saliva testing program is in the works and expected to launch later this month; they also stressed the necessity of contact-tracing.
Doctors statewide are sounding the alarm over COVID surges, MPR reported. Some 98% of ICU beds in the Twin Cities metro area were full last week, as were 92% of ICU beds statewide, according to the Star Tribune.
On Monday, Walz hinted at potential new restrictions across the state, according to the Star Tribune. Other states like Oregon and California have already increased restrictions in response to rising coronavirus case numbers.
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