Minnesota announces new COVID-19 testing site in International Falls

Pop-up site will offer saliva testing to everyone

3 mins read

Today, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced a new temporary COVID-19 testing site in Koochiching County. Testing at this site will occur Thursday, Jan. 21 through Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Bob Walls Memorial Union Hall in International Falls. Appointments are strongly encouraged, but not required.

“Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Through a robust, collaborative statewide testing program, we have made great progress in removing obstacles to testing. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing can help us slow the spread of COVID-19 and bridge to the better days we know are coming.”

“Our COVID-19 testing strategy has been data-driven since day one with the goal of offering low-barrier testing for every Minnesotan who needs it. The sooner we identify positive cases, the sooner infected individuals can take steps to isolate and stop the spread of the virus,” said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection. “Our community testing strategy continues to expand access all across Minnesota and has already allowed the state to conduct more than half a million COVID-19 tests at community testing sites alone. This disease is spread by people who don’t even know they have it. We want people to get tested, even if they’re asymptomatic. If you have been working outside the home, are a case contact, or a young adult or teenager, you should get tested. By providing more options, we make it more likely that people will get tested and help us stop the spread of the virus.”

The International Falls site is a coordinated effort between the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota National Guard, Koochiching County Public Health and Human Services, City of International Falls, Bob Walls Memorial Union Hall, ISD 361 – International Falls School District, Koochiching County Sheriff’s Office – Emergency Management Division, American Red Cross – North Central Division, and Vault Health.

“I surely encourage all community members to access this free test,” said Superintendent Kevin Grover, ISD 361 – International Falls School District. “The ability for the school district to keep students in person learning is to slow the spread of the virus which happens when positive case individuals are quarantining and not spreading the virus. The students need all of us to participate.”

“It has always been so important for our residents to have an opportunity to be tested for COVID-19,” said Mayor Harley Droba, City of International Falls. “This is an opportunity to have a mass test to see a point in time of where we are in the battle against the virus. I encourage as many people in our community that can be tested, to think of their neighbors and friends and take part in this mass testing at Bob Wall’s Union Hall.”

It is important to get tested for COVID-19 because it simply saves lives,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Willi Kostiuk, Koochiching County Sheriff’s Office. “Our county has experienced the effects of what COVID-19 can do to a community. The pandemic has changed how we work, learn, and interact as social distancing guidelines have led to a more virtual existence, both personally and professionally. It has taken an economic toll on our entire county that may take some time to recover. It has taken special people from our lives and affected families forever.

“Testing for COVID-19, including those who have no symptoms, who show symptoms of infection such as trouble breathing, fever or loss of sense of smell and taste and, and who may have been exposed to the virus will help prevent the spread of the virus within our county. A positive test early in the illness enables individuals to isolate themselves thereby reducing the chances that they will infect others and allows the individual to be treated for the infection sooner. Since it is proven that a large part of COVID-19 infections is transmitted by people who are not showing symptoms, identifying infected individuals while they are pre symptomatic, as well as those who asymptomatic, will help in stopping the pandemic in our county. The testing process is non-invasive and can be done in a very short amount of time so please Koochiching County, get tested and get vaccinated when it is offered to you.”

As with all of the state’s community testing sites, testing at the site is offered at no cost to participants. 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 if insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains open to all at no cost.

Testing is open to anyone who believes they need a COVID-19 test, with or without insurance. State guidance on who should get tested can be found on the Minnesota COVID-19 Response webpage, Who Should Get Tested?.

Those who arrive 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 salivating into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process.

Individuals seeking testing can register at Vault Health. Tests will be processed in Minnesota at the saliva lab in Oakdale run by Vault Health and Infinity Biologix (IBX). Results will be provided via email in approximately 48-72 hours.

Zack Benz

Zack Benz has been a fan of the Daily Planet since he was eight years old. The Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for him and it’s his life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world. Zack graduated with a degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2019.

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