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New COVID testing options offered in St. Louis County on the Iron Range, DECC

The return of students to in-person learning, combined with the rising number of new COVID-19 cases, has greatly increased the demand for COVID-19 testing.

St. Louis County Public Health is working with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to increase the availability of walk-in saliva tests, in particular on the Iron Range.

Free saliva tests are now available on the following days at the following locations, and will continue until further notice:

. Mondays, 1-5 p.m., Eveleth Auditorium, 421 Jackson Street, Eveleth

. Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to noon, Iron Trail Motors Event Center, 919 6th Street South, Virginia

. Fridays, noon – 4 p.m., St. Louis County Government Services Center – Virginia, 201 South 3rd Avenue, Virginia

Meanwhile, the state has announced that the saliva testing site at the DECC in Duluth will expand its days of operation. Beginning today, the testing site inside the DECC’s Paulucci Hall will double in size, providing space to serve approximately 1,000 people per day.

The DECC site will be open next week, Monday-Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beginning the week of October 11 and continuing indefinitely, the site will operate Tuesday-Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are hearing numerous concerns from people about how difficult it has been to access COVID tests the last few weeks,” said Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health division director. “With hospitals and clinics, pharmacies, my team in public health – we’re pretty much all at capacity, so it takes some coordination to redirect resources. We’re grateful that people are doing the right thing and seeking out testing, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to do that.”

Other options for COVID-19 tests include contacting your medical provider or pharmacy for an appointment, or look for other COVID-19 testing locations in the area, which can be found online at: mn.gov/covid19/get-tested. People also may order a free Vault saliva test-at-home kit at health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/testsites/athome.html.

People should not go to a hospital Emergency Department or Urgent Care just for a COVID test.

“The emergency departments and urgent care sites are busy and need to be able to focus their resources on caring for those who are ill and require treatment,” said St. Luke’s Co-President/CEO and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Van Deelen, “If you simply need a test for COVID 19 due to an exposure or do not have symptoms severe enough to require evaluation by a provider, please utilize one of the alternative testing options.”

“We encourage people to have a plan for getting tested and to recognize that there isn’t a quick solution to avoid quarantine.” said Westbrook. “Order a test-at home kit now so that you have it on hand, or know where you can call or go for an appointment. If an unvaccinated person is a close contact of a confirmed case, it is recommended to wait a minimum of 3-5 days to get tested, and then expect another 24-48 hours for results to come back.”

People also should be aware of the difference between test types available and in what instances they work best. Antigen tests, the rapid tests that many people are seeking for the quick result, are in short supply and are recommended for people who are already symptomatic. PCR tests – which include both nasal swab and saliva tests – are considered the gold standard for accuracy, and are recommended for anyone regardless if they have symptoms.

Published in Breaking Essentia

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