ST PAUL, Minn. — While COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped steadily in recent weeks, health officials say testing remains a priority for keeping the virus and its multiple variants from spiking again.
The state of Minnesota wants residents to remain vigilant, and is launching a new online program to provide rapid testing kits at no cost, right to the front door of those who need them.
Beginning Tuesday, March 29, Minnesotans will be able to log on to the state COVID website at mn.gov/covid19 and order two at-home test kits (a total of four tests) per home through an online ordering system. Gov. Tim Walz says the state has secured 500,000 test kits, adding that the program will be available until all the test kits are ordered and shipped.
Walz says Minnesota will use this program as a model for providing more access to COVID-19 rapid testing in the months ahead, adding if the effort proves successful the state will count on it as part of the response to future case surges.
“Our goal has always been to ensure that when Minnesotans need a test, they can get one quickly and easily,” said Walz in a statement. “Even as case numbers decline, it’s important that Minnesotans test for COVID-19 if they are feeling sick. That’s why we’re continuing to work to make tests easily accessible – now and in the future.”
Rapid at-home antigen tests, like those Minnesotans can begin ordering Tuesday, provide more flexibility to Minnesota families who need to monitor COVID-19 symptoms. The tests can be done at home and results are delivered within minutes, with no lab delivery required.
State and federal health officials warn residents not to get complacent due to falling COVID numbers, and say testing is key to preventing major outbreaks of the virus. They recommend people should use testing if:
- They have symptoms of the virus.
- They have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
- They are returning from international or domestic travel.
- They attended a high-risk event.
- They work in a setting that has regular, close contact with many people.
While starting the new program, the department of health will sunset the Vault at-home testing effort on March 31. Minnesotans who have have Vault PCR tests at home will be able to use them until they expire or through December 31, 2022, whichever comes first. The Vault program required mailing a test in for lab processing, which required days to complete.
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