Walz tours Oakdale COVID-19 saliva testing lab capable of processing 30,000 samples daily

    Gov. Tim Walz urged Minnesotans to stay vigilant ahead of the Labor Day weekend. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer.

    Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday toured a new COVID-19 saliva testing lab in Oakdale, paid for with $14.6 million in federal CARES Act funding to help the state combat the pandemic. 

    The COVID saliva lab will be able to process up to 30,000 samples a day when operating at full capacity, and will employ up to 250 workers, according to the governor’s office. 

    “Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” Walz said in a statement. “Our saliva testing partnership has already helped bring testing access to Minnesotans across the state, and this new lab will better prepare us to track, understand, and fight the virus in our communities.”

    The state is developing up to 10 semi-permanent testing sites across Minnesota, as well as a mail order program that will launch as pilot program later this month. The state has erected semi-permanent testing sites in Duluth, Winona, Moorhead and Brooklyn Park. 

    The Oakdale lab will ensure quicker turnaround of results because samples will be couriered in state rather than being shipped to New Jersey, where IBX, the developer of the saliva test, is based. 

    IBX, formerly Rutgers RUCDR Infinite Biologics, received the first FDA emergency use approval for its saliva test in April. The test is touted as a less invasive way to diagnose COVID-19.

    Ricardo Lopez
    Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.