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Company sees spike in requests for COVID testing

As case counts rise, people are once again looking to be tested for COVID, but finding a free site might not come easily.

MINNEAPOLIS — The number of newly reported COVID cases isn't slowing down. The Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday there are more than 1,300 new cases and eight additional deaths.

As case counts rise, people are once again looking to be tested for COVID. Yet unlike Minnesota's peak in cases last winter, finding a site might not come easily.

The state says MSP Airport and the Starlite Center in Brooklyn Park are the only two remaining free, walk-in sites in the metro. However, there are dozens more options statewide, including pharmacies, doctor's offices and private companies.

Any Lab Test Now, a franchise with locations nationwide, including Plymouth and Lakeville, reports a recent surge in requests.

"Over the summer, it really started to die down a little bit, but within the last 30 days, I mean, we're definitely seeing a good double or triple the amount of tests than we had been doing most of the summer," said Alex Lamkin, who owns the Plymouth location.

It's within the last 30 days the delta variant has spread quickly across Minnesota. According to the CDC, just one Minnesota county remains at a low COVID transmission level and just six counties have hit moderate levels. The rest of the state is at substantial and high levels.

Credit: KARE 11
This CDC map shows most Minnesota counties are at substantial and high COVID transmission levels.

Knowing this, more activities and businesses are requiring people to prove they don't have COVID - even if they're vaccinated.

"The scary thing about delta is that you can be vaccinated and still spread it,"  Lamkin said. "So I would think that if people have any types of symptoms at all even if they are vaccinated they're going to want to try to get tested if possible."

The Minnesota Department of Health says breakthrough cases are extremely rare, and recommends eligible people ages 12 and up get vaccinated.

Still, whether for travel or a return to the office, people want answers and fast.

Results from the rapid, antigen test come back within about 20 minutes. Lamkin says they're not as accurate as the PCR tests they also offer, which are sent to a lab and results take 24 to 36 hours.

"We are starting to see a little bit more questions on needing the rapid test done," Lamkin said. "Typically a rapid test is done for people who do have symptoms and it's just a quick yes or no so we are seeing a little bit more of those phone calls."

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