Gov. Tim Walz recently announced a further expansion of rapid testing availability at community sites across Minnesota, including Wadena.

The state is launching new COVID-19 community rapid testing sites in Stillwater, Crookston and Hutchinson this week. New rapid testing sites will also launch next week in Wadena, Inver Grove Heights, Hibbing and Albert Lea, according to a state news release. The sites are being supported by the Minnesota National Guard and take place mostly at National Guard Armories, including the Wadena Armory.

“Minnesotans are working hard to navigate daycare, school, and work — and they need the reassurance and ease of rapid testing to keep their lives on track,” Walz said in the release. “By helping Minnesotans get the speedy test results they need, we are taking action to make sure Minnesotans have access to rapid testing options at our free community testing network.”

The sites use antigen tests and results are received in a matter of hours. Antigen tests are taken with a nasal swab and look for specific proteins on the surface of the virus, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Testing at the rapid sites is recommended for symptomatic Minnesotans and is open to Minnesotans with or without insurance. State guidance on who should get tested can be found on the COVID-19 Testing webpage.

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Testing is free at all of the state’s community testing sites. Participants that have health insurance will be asked for their insurance information so the state can bill their insurance company. If a person is uninsured or if insurance does not cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference, according to the release.

While walk-ins are welcome, people seeking testing at state sites can schedule a test as well. Rapid test results will be available within approximately 1-3 hours of processing.

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National Guard service members will be in seven teams to assist in conducting testing facility management, administrative tasks and administering COVID-19 tests.

"The Minnesota National Guard's motto is 'Always Ready, Always There' and demonstrates our commitment to support Minnesota citizens," Army Major General Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard's Adjutant General, said in the release. "We have supported public health activities since March 2020 with varying levels of personnel and activities and are prepared to do so, again."

Sixteen local public health agencies across the state are also deploying rapid tests provided by MDH, some of which will be used at community testing clinics and others will be used for targeted testing efforts. Participating agencies will announce their testing plans and appointments processes.

Additional testing locations are listed on the MDH website at mn.gov/covid19/get-tested/testing-locations/index.jsp. Free home saliva tests are also offered through MDH at learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota/.