Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

MDH starts at-home testing pilot program in Beltrami, other counties


October 27, 2020

BEMIDJI -- The Minnesota Department of Health announced a new pilot program Monday allowing coronavirus testing at home.

The tests will be available to residents in two dozen counties and the Red Lake Nation. Minnesotans will be able to order their saliva tests online and perform them at home, a release said.

The tests will be available in select service areas free of charge to any Minnesotan in these areas who believes they need to be tested, including those who are asymptomatic. While a specific date wasn't given in the press release, MDH did state that the tests will be available to all Minnesotans soon.

Beltrami is one of the counties where the tests are available, as well as nearby Aitkin, Becker, Crow Wing, Itasca and Pine. All of the counties, and Red Lake, were selected for the pilot because they represent geographically diverse areas of the state.

The locations were also noted to not currently have a saliva testing site. Minnesota has four saliva testing sites open in Brooklyn Park, Duluth, Moorhead and Winona. Another site in Mankato is set to open Friday.

"Minnesota's testing strategy includes having multiple options for people seeking out testing," MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said, in the release. "Having more options helps to remove barriers, ensuring all Minnesotans have access to quick and reliable testing. The continued increase in COVID-19 cases across Greater Minnesota, tied to small everyday gatherings, is very concerning. Testing is one way we slow the spread of COVID-19 and the mail order program provides yet another method for Minnesotans to access testing."

Citizens will be able to order a test online and ship it to their home. From there, they can perform a test under the supervision of a health care professional through a telehealth visit. Once completed, they can ship the test tube back to the state's Oakdale, Minn., facility, with results expected in 24-48 hours.

"The saliva testing program has made our testing strategy more resilient by offering a convenient method that further reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19," MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said. "We're eager to make the Test at Home program available. The pilot will provide important information for how the program will work not just in our more populated areas, but more remote locations as well. We'll use that information to make necessary adjustments before making the program available to all Minnesotans statewide, as soon as possible."

Participants will be asked for health insurance so the state can bill their company. If a person is uninsured, or for any reason insurance does not cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference.

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