Minnesota expands testing options to treat, adjusts COVID-19 community testing network

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Press release

June 22, 2022

Two other Minnesota COVID-19 testing sites will soon offer testing options to treat: MSP Airport, starting June 23, and Saint Paul-Midway, starting June 27.

At community test-to-treat sites, Minnesotans can get tested for COVID-19 and, if positive and determined to be at high risk, be prescribed medication at the same time. The testing sites for additional processing come as the state scales its overall community testing network in light of declining demand and the wide availability of testing across the state.

The test to treat grows

Minnesota will offer the test for treatment at two existing community testing sites: MSP Airport, starting June 23, and Saint Paul-Midway, June 27. The federal government will support the test to process airport MSP and the Minnesota Department. Health (MDH) will lead operations in Saint Paul-Midway. MSP Airport will now offer rapid tests to all patients.

The two sites join three federally supported community test-to-treat sites in Brooklyn Park, Moorhead and Duluth. Since opening earlier this month, the sites have prescribed medication to more than 300 Minnesotans.

“COVID-19 drugs are a very important tool in our toolbox to help prevent serious illness and keep people out of the hospital, and testing to treat makes it easier for eligible Minnesotans to receive these drugs,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan. Malcolm. “Minnesota residents who feel ill and are at high risk for severe COVID-19 should visit a testing site for treatment or speak to their healthcare provider to see if the medications are right for them. We are grateful to our federal partners and test site hosts who help us make these resources more accessible.

All test-to-treat community sites will continue to test Minnesotans at no cost. Minnesotans who test positive for COVID-19 via rapid antigen testing will be able to choose to be assessed onsite by a clinician and given a prescription for the antiviral drug Paxlovid if deemed appropriate. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are recommended at mn.gov/covid19.

MDH and its testing partners are working with the Board of Pharmacy to complete the necessary steps for on-site drug distribution to testing locations to treat. Until this is permitted, prescriptions are sent either to a pharmacy chosen by the patients or to a nearby pharmacy to be filled.

Minnesotans seeking medication at community test-to-treat sites should be prepared to provide details of their medical history, especially their current medications, to the clinician on site. Only patients deemed high risk by the clinician will receive a prescription for Paxlovid.

COVID-19 therapies aren’t right for everyone, but they can reduce serious illness or the risk of hospitalization in patients who are unvaccinated, elderly, or have other risk factors. Learn more about COVID-19 medications on the Care page on the Minnesota COVID-19 Response website.

The new Test-to-Treat community sites will join the existing 61 Test-to-Treat sites already operating statewide in Minnesota, primarily located in clinics or pharmacies with Minute Clinics. Minnesotans can find other testing sites to process using the federal government Test to process the locator. Some sites may require appointments.

Outside of the test-to-treat program, the drugs are available from Minnesotans’ health care providers. Minnesotans who test positive for COVID-19 should contact their doctor or health care provider to see if treatment is right for them.

To accommodate Test for Treat at MSP Airport, the site’s Community Vaccination Operation will close from June 30. Minnesotans can find other vaccination locations at mn.gov/vaccine.

Community testnet to scale

As demand for testing is rapidly declining in Minnesota, to preserve state resources and capacity for any future surges in cases, and due to free testing widely available through other providers, MDH is scaling its network community testing.

Free COVID-19 tests are available from providers including clinics and pharmacies. Minnesotans can receive free at-home rapid tests through the state mail (at Order your free rapid home tests) and federal governments (to COVID.gov), and through reimbursement by health insurers. See “Where to find COVID-19 tests” below.

June 29, 2022 will be the last day for regular COVID-19 testing at the following testing locations:

  • Albert Lea (last day June 25)
  • Bemidji
  • Bloomington
  • marshal
  • Morris (last day June 28)
  • North Branch (last day June 28)
  • Wadena (last day June 28)
  • winona

The three busiest Twin Cities testing sites in the state and the four busiest testing sites in Greater Minnesota will remain open until further notice:

  • Brooklyn Park (including test to treat)
  • Duluth (including test to treat)
  • mankato
  • MSP airport (test to process from June 23)
  • Moorhead (including test to treat)
  • Saint Cloud
  • Saint Paul-Midway (test to treat from June 27)

Visit mn.gov/covid19 for a list of opening hours and addresses and to make an appointment.

Last week, community testing sites in Minnesota conducted 7,300 tests. That’s a 92% drop in testing from peak demand in January, when state testing sites conducted 87,000 tests per week, and a 33% drop from the previous month.

These changes to testing locations will still allow Minnesotans to receive rapid and PCR tests when they need them in areas of the state where demand is highest. Because the new testing network is less expensive, it will allow Minnesota to plan and implement widespread testing operations in the future, if COVID-19 cases increase and testing demand increases.

To help local partners provide testing resources in Minnesota, MDH is offering 240,000 rapid home tests (120,000 kits) to local public health, tribal health agencies, community COVID-19 coordinators, shelters and food shelves to distribute to families. Partners who order these tests will communicate directly to Minnesotans about the availability of the free tests.

Where to find COVID-19 tests

Minnesotans have many COVID-19 testing resources.

  • Health care systems, clinics, pharmacies, local public health and other private labs are offering free testing to Minnesotans. A continuously updated list of participating sites is available at Find testing locations.
  • Under an order from the Biden administration, insurers are required to cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 test kits per month for enrollees. Ask your insurance company about ways to get free rapid tests from pharmacies.
  • Minnesotans can order up to four at-home rapid test kits (eight tests) free from the state. Visit Order your free rapid home tests.
  • Minnesotans can request up to eight free at-home rapid test kits (16 tests) per household at COVID.gov.
  • As part of the Biden administration’s test-to-treat program, 61 pharmacies and community clinics in Minnesota are performing rapid on-site tests and prescribing antiviral drugs to at-risk people who test positive. Find a list of participating providers with the federal government Test to process the locator.

When to get tested

  • Testing remains an important tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • To prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should use tests if:
    • You have symptoms of the virus.
    • You have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
    • You are returning from an international or national trip.
    • You attended a high-risk event.
    • You work in an environment that is in regular and close contact with many people.

  • Minnesotans can find up-to-date guidance on when to get tested at MDH: COVID-19 Test.


-MDH-


COVID-19 Public Helpline:
For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call 1-833-431-2053, Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mental Health Crisis Line – Call: **CRISIS (**274747)

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