For anybody who was subjected to the nasal swab test for COVID-19 I think we can all agree it is pretty awful and a tinge painful. Of course in the scheme of things what people go through with COVID-19 is nothing compared to this, but as far as a testing method it is awfully uncomfortable. I truly believe that this stops some people from getting tested, but good news on that front. Starting this month The Minnesota Department of Health is eliminating the nasal swab test and just using the saliva test at all 20 barrier free testing sites in the state. And the states at-home testing will remain saliva tests only.

Nasal swab testing will remain in effect at private facilities such as hospitals and clinics. The testing site at the DECC in Duluth is included in the Barrier Free testing sites. For residents with Insurance they can still use these testing sites where their insurer will be billed before state funding klicks in.

The CEOs of IBX and Vault Health, the companies that test the saliva samples said in a interview last week that Gov. Tim Walz and his administration pursued one of the most aggressive public-testing programs in the nation. Vault Health CEO Jason Feldman said:

I think Gov. Walz's team is probably the most innovative of any state we work across — and we work across all of them. There is no other state that has said to their residents, anybody who needs a test can get a test, without any friction.

Minnesota was among a small number of states in 2020 that offered free, widespread testing. $150 million in state funds was used to supplement federal funding. State Department of Health officials say " the lab averaged 60,000 tests a week in December. The move to all-saliva testing is expected to add about 2,500 per week."

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Hopefully every resident in Minnesota will take advantage of this free testing program if they have any inkling that they may have been exposed. Yes the vaccines have been approved, but it is anybody's guess when the average person will be eligible to get the vaccine. So in the meantime we need to keep steady with current protocols to not only keep ourselves safe but others as well.

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