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More COVID rapid testing available in Minnesota, but it's not for everyone

The faster COVID tests come at a higher cost, and aren't as effective at detecting asymptomatic cases.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesotans now have expanded access to rapid COVID-19 testing sites, but they may not be the right choice for asymptomatic cases and there are costs and other considerations.

HyVee is now offering drive-through rapid antigen testing at the following locations:

Lakeville Hy-Vee, 16150 Pilot Knob Road, Lakeville, MN
Hilltop Hy-Vee, 2010 Adams St., Mankato, MN
New Hope Hy-Vee, 8200 42nd Ave. N., New Hope, MN
Oakdale Hy-Vee, 7180 10th St. N., Oakdale, MN
West Circle Hy-Vee, 4221 W. Circle Drive NW, Rochester, MN

The HyVee rapid tests cost $90 in Minnesota and are not covered by insurance. The retailer says patients can expect test results in as little as 1-2 hours. 

A testing company called Health Gauge, also opened a drive-through rapid antigen testing site near the Mall of America on Friday (intersection of 24th Ave S and E 79th St).

The Health Gauge test is $99, but the company says it might be reimbursed by some insurance. Online appointments must be made ahead of time, but they promise results in as little as 30 minutes.

Rapid tests aren't for everyone

According to the HyVee testing website, not everyone is eligible for the rapid antigen tests:

According to clarifying guidance issued by the CDC on Dec. 5, 2020, only the following patients will be eligible for rapid antigen testing:

  • Patients who are symptomatic
  • Patients who are asymptomatic with a known or reported exposure in the last 14 days

The retailer is still offering free PCR testing, which the CDC considers to be the "gold standard" in COVID-19 testing because it is the most accurate and sensitive test. However, results can take several days.

KARE11 Reporter Kent Erdahl spoke to Dr. William Morice, President of Mayo Clinic Labs, about the various testing options.

Kent Erdahl: "What are some of the things people should consider if they're wondering which test is right for them?"

Dr. Morice: "If you're not sick, meaning that you're asymptomatic and you just want to get tested, you really have to understand that some of the tests, particularly the rapid tests might not perform quite as well in asymptomatic individuals. You have to weigh both a positive and a negative result with an air of caution."

Dr. Morice says the rapid tests could be helpful if you have symptoms or high risk contacts and need quick answers due to travel or living arrangements, but he says you need to be prepared to have those plans disrupted and quarantine.

Dr. Morice: "Be prepared, if the result is positive, to treat it like a true positive result. You're going to have to think about getting that result confirmed with a PCR test. If you really want to be confident, more confident in the result, positive or negative, probably the PCR test is the way to go."

If you opt for a PCR test, the Minnesota Department of Health now offers free swab and saliva testing at 29 community testing sites. Click here for more information.

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