The State of Minnesota announced it opened a saliva testing site on Friday at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, adjacent to Saint Paul RiverCentre. This will be the first saliva testing location to open in the Twin Cities, and the seventh in the state, offering free saliva tests to any Minnesotan who believes they need to be tested.
“Minnesota is seeing an alarming jump in COVID-19 cases and neighboring states are seeing even worse,” said Minnesota Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “The good news is that Minnesotans have it in their power to make things better if everyone does their part. Testing is a key part of our strategy, and we’ve made great progress in removing obstacles to testing thanks to strong partnerships across the state. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing helps us slow the spread of COVID-19 and move us closer to the day when we have safe and effective vaccines.”
Testing will be located in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, part of the Saint Paul RiverCentre complex at 175 Kellogg Boulevard. Limited free parking will be available on the roof of the Saint Paul RiverCentre ramp. Metered parking is also available in Rice Park. To access the entrance to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, people are encouraged to take the skyway from the RiverCentre Parking Ramp, enter the doors by the RiverCentre marquee sign on Kellogg Boulevard, or enter at the Rice Park entrance located on Washington Street, and follow directional signage.
Due to expected demand, testing will be available seven days a week, noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The State of Minnesota and Vault Health will reevaluate hours of each site as others open and demand waxes and wanes with disease progression in Minnesota. Appointments can be made through the Vault Health registration site at https://mncovidtestingappt.as.me/schedule.php.
The state opened the first saliva testing site in Duluth on September 23. Since then, saliva testing locations have opened in Winona, Moorhead, Brooklyn Park, Mankato, and St. Cloud; state officials plan to open at least three more in the Twin Cities metro area in coming weeks. Those tests will be processed right here in Minnesota, at the new saliva lab in Oakdale. Results will be provided via email within 24-48 hours.
“The Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul offers access to thousands of people across the east metro, as well as to those in the Twin Cities,” said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection. “Our COVID-19 numbers are moving in the wrong direction, but we still have a chance to turn the tide here in Minnesota if everyone does their part; we hope this increased access to testing will help people learn if they are positive for COVID-19 and to isolate when necessary.”
Testing is free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID-19 test, including those who are asymptomatic. 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 for any reason insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference, so testing remains completely free to everyone.
“We’re pleased this hub will open in St. Paul and offer another fast, easy way for people who live and work in the east metro area to get tested,” said Ramsey County Board Chair Toni Carter. “The new site expands and complements Ramsey County efforts to reach underserved populations through the low-barrier testing we have been offering at Aldrich Arena and at other sites with our community partners.”
The same saliva test was also recently made available to 23 counties and the Red Lake Nation through the COVID-19 Test at Home Program. The service will be available soon to all Minnesotans statewide.
The saliva test is a PCR test, just like the traditional nasal swab, with the same effectiveness rate; however, it is more comfortable to take. Those who come 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 spitting into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process.
“Our strategy to managing the virus continues to be proactive, data-driven, and aggressive,” continued Huff. “A higher testing capacity, combined with masking, social distancing, and isolation when appropriate, is critical to that strategy. Our work to bring saliva testing to Minnesotans is an important supplement to the COVID testing options already offered across the state. Growing and diversifying our testing options is a tool to keeping Minnesotans safe.”
For more information about the saliva testing site in St. Paul, please visit COVID-19 Community Saliva Testing.