Mitchell: What's the testing process like at the Wadena Armory?
I found the process to be easy and efficient.
With free COVID-19 testing at the Wadena Armory I wondered, like many of you, what the process would be like and how many people were using the option. People do not have to have symptoms to be tested and can return for testing multiple times as needed or as you are comfortable.
Below is a bit about the testing experience.
When entering the Wadena Armory it feels much like a wide-open gym complete with a few tables where nurses and Minnesota National Guard members are prepared to help—and efficient in getting you out quickly. I was in and out in under five minutes.
Along the way you’ll be directed by signs and guard members, though the test is completed by a nurse. I made an appointment in the early evening and there were only two other people being tested. Appointments are not necessary, but you have the option.
With a pump of hand sanitizer and a disposable surgical mask, you’ll be pointed down the first row. If you are already wearing a mask, you’ll be asked to put on the new mask or place it on top of your current one. The surgical mask allows staff members to know you've been through the check-in process as well as a convenience factor in completing the test. And there’s no temperature taking.
There are two lines to space out people, walk-ins and online registration, which mostly are available if the space is busy. Like testing at Tri-County and area hospitals, be prepared to answer if you’ve had any symptoms and know your birth date.
If you filled out a registration form online or over the phone, your name and your birth date are the only identifying factors they’ll ask at the Armory. On the forms, you include your phone number and/or email, address, any symptoms you might be having and if you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
You’ll end at a line with numbered cones in front of you and taped Xs on the ground. You’ll see gloves and testing materials lining the last two tables. A nurse decked out in personal protective equipment will verify your name and birth date.
And in a time of social distancing and wearing masks, testing requires the nurse to briefly come close and the person to pull down their mask to just below their nose. The nurse will insert the nasal swab into both of your nostrils, twirling it around for about 5-10 seconds on each side.
I was definitely nervous about how the nasal swab would feel and was pleasantly surprised how quickly it was over. Your nose might feel a little weird afterwards. I’ve had it feel like my nostril is wide open or have my nose be kind of runny.
You’ll get a range of days for when the test results are expected to be returned. I got two to five days; my results came on the sixth day due to the high testing demand before Thanksgiving. Your results will come through an individual link in a text message. If you test positive, you will also receive a phone call from a Minnesota Department of Health contact tracer.
And that’s it. No insurance card, payment or anything else. Just let the waiting ensue.
If you have not been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or do not have symptoms, you do not have to stay home while waiting for your test results.
If you develop symptoms or your symptoms worsen, make sure to contact your doctor or healthcare provider and stay home.
And remember the free Wadena Armory testing site is open through January and if you’d like you can be tested again in the future for any reason.
The Wadena Armory has free COVID-19 testing from noon-6 p.m. on select dates through December and January. Testing is available for people with or without symptoms. Walk-ins are accepted; you can also make an appointment at www.primarybio.com/r/wadena or call 1-855-612-0677.
The state also offers free at-home salvia tests. You read more about the tests and order a test at www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/testsites/athome.html .
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, which is available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html
Tri-County Health Care COVID-19 website: www.tchc.org/coronavirus or 218-631-3510
Lakewood Health System COVID-19 website: www.lakewoodhealthsystem.com/coronaviruscovid-19/ or 218-894-1515
Editor’s note: Reporter Rebecca Mitchell was voluntarily tested for COVID-19 due to her age between 18-35 years old. People from 18-35 years old are being encouraged to get tested due to a high percentage of asymptomatic cases in this age range. People of any age can be asymptomatic.