The Minnesota Department of Health began accepting January 2021 appointments at the community testing sites across the state. Each site offers safe, "no-barrier" COVID-19 testing at no cost to participants.

Appointments are strongly encouraged but not required, according to an MDH news release.

“Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” said Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Commissioner of Health, in the release. “Through a robust, collaborative statewide testing program, we have made great progress in removing obstacles to testing. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing can help us slow the spread of COVID-19 and bridge to the better days we know are coming.”

In order to help prevent further spread of the virus, the MDH has set up over 20 semi-permanent community testing sites statewide. These sites allow Minnesotans to get tested near where they live so they can make informed decisions to protect their families and communities, as stated in the release.

“Our COVID-19 testing strategy has been data-driven since day one with the goal of offering low-barrier testing for every Minnesotan who needs it. The sooner we identify positive cases, the sooner infected individuals can take steps to isolate and stop the spread of the virus,” said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection, in the release. “This disease is spread by people who don’t even know they have it. We want people to get tested, even if they're asymptomatic. If you have been working outside the home during this dial back period, are a case contact or a young adult, you should get tested."

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Community testing is offered in the following locations across the state in January: Albert Lea, Anoka, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Crookston, Duluth, Hibbing, Hutchinson, Inver Grove Heights, MSP Airport, Mankato, Minneapolis, Moorhead, Morris, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Stillwater, Wadena, Winona and Worthington.

Each site offers saliva testing at no cost to participants. If a participant is unable to carry out a saliva test, every effort will be made to accommodate a suitable testing option. Participants will be asked for their health insurance information so the state can bill their insurance company on their behalf. If a person is uninsured or if insurance does not cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains open to all at no cost, according to the release.

Testing is open to anyone who believes they need a COVID-19 test, with or without insurance. State guidance on who should get tested was recently updated and can be found on the Minnesota COVID-19 Response webpage, Who Should Get Tested?.

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Those who arrive for a test should avoid eating, drinking, chewing or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample. Once they arrive at the site, they will self-administer the test by salivating into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process.

Individuals seeking testing can register at COVID-19 Community Testing Sites. Days and hours of testing may vary between sites. Tests will be processed in Minnesota at the saliva lab in Oakdale run by Vault Health and Infinity Biologix. Results will be provided via email in approximately 48-72 hours.

More information

The Wadena National Guard Armory testing site has nasal swab COVID-19 tests available through the end of December and starts saliva tests on Jan. 4. The site is open Jan. 4-7, 13-16, 20-22 and 27-30 from noon-6 p.m. on those days. Walk-ins are welcome or you may schedule an appointment at mncovidtestingappt.as.me.