MINNEAPOLIS — COVID-19 testing sites run by the State of Minnesota will close their doors this weekend, after remaining open for three years of the pandemic.
The testing site at St. Paul Midway will close on Friday, Jan. 27, the Duluth site will close on Saturday, Jan. 28, and the sites at Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will close on Jan. 29.
Coronavirus testing is still available through private organizations, pharmacies and doctors. Click here to find a testing location near you.
Minnesotans can also order more free at-home rapid COVID tests through the state. Click here to place an order.
“We are extremely grateful for all of the partners, staff and contractors who worked to make these state-run testing sites a cornerstone of Minnesota’s nation-leading response to COVID-19,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham said in a statement. “COVID-19 tests will continue to be widely available to Minnesotans from a variety of sources.”
Updated COVID-19 booster shots are now available throughout the state at pharmacies and doctors' offices. Clinics might also be offered at community locations around Minnesota. Click here to find a site offering coronavirus vaccines near you.
This comes as the latest Minnesota Department of Health numbers report that infections and hospitalizations have dropped.
Only 378 COVID patients were in hospitals Monday – the lowest since mid-October. Infections also dropped from the previous week.
But health officials say the good news seems to be making people lazy when it comes to keeping up with vaccinations.
"We haven't had phenomenal vaccination rates in Minnesota with the newest booster, the bivalent booster," said Dr. Hannah Lichtsinn with Hennepin Healthcare.
In fact, only 15% of eligible Americans have received the latest version of the shot.
"It's really frustrating because we know that being fully vaccinated is the best protection that people can have against severe illness, hospitalization and death," said Lichtsinn.
As part of its goal to get more people vaccinated, an FDA committee voted unanimously to simplify vaccination by recommending vaccines have the same formula to target the viral strain.
They are also considering having an annual COVID vaccination schedule, similar to the annual flu shot.
"I would expect that we're going to continue needing these to stay safe," said Lichtsinn.
Still, Dr. Lichtsinn isn't too worried about the Department of Health testing sites closing this week, and there's enough testing available.
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