The increase of positive COVID-19 cases recently in Minnesota has health officials concerned with the amount of community spread likely taking place. They are launching a four-week effort to provide increased access to “no barrier” testing in communities across the state, beginning the week of September 21.

The Minnesota Department of Health says that each week multiple communities across the state will be set up for a day or two to offer residents free testing.  This is open for everyone, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

“The troublesome trends in our neighboring states are a reminder of how quickly we could go from walking the cliff’s edge to tumbling over it,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We are deeply concerned about the spike of cases in communities all over the state where people don’t know how they contracted the virus. Community spread driven by people who don’t know they have it puts those most vulnerable to the worst complications at grave risk. It’s more critical than ever to test a lot of people and identify positive cases early to slow that spread. Testing lets us know who needs to isolate and who else may be at risk.”

The first week of targeted testing is occurring in Grand Rapids, Pine City and Waseca. The locations for subsequent events are still being identified and will be communicated in the coming days.

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As had been done in the past for testing at long-term care facilities, the National Guard will be activated to provide some staffing and logistical support for this four-week testing push.

Free testing will be available in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, September 23.  Area residents are invited to get tested at the Itasca County Fairgrounds, located at 1336 Fairgrounds Road, between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Testing will be done with a nasal swab, processed either by Mayo Clinic Laboratories or the University of Minnesota, through the lab capacity created by the testing partnership.

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