Winona to host saliva COVID testing site

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — The state of Minnesota will open a saliva testing site Wednesday at the Winona Mall — the second COVID-19 testing site of its kind on the state.

The site, located in the back of the mall facing Hwy. 61 (near the DMV) will offer free saliva tests for the coronavirus to any Minnesotan who believes they need to be tested five days a week.

“We can’t let down our guard in our battle against COVID-19,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “One of biggest areas of concern right now is the growing community spread and increase in cases throughout Greater Minnesota.”

Malcolm was concerned about the greater risk of transmission as the weather pushes gatherings indoors.

“Saliva testing offers Minnesotans another option for seeking out testing when they need it. Increased access to testing and identifying positive cases as early as possible is a critical way to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to keep schools and the economy as open as possible,” she said.

Testing is free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID test, including those who are asymptomatic. While they will be asked about their insurance, this is so the state can bill the insurance company. If a person is uninsured or for any reason insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains completely free to everyone. Results are typically provided via email within 48-72 hours.

“We’re pleased the state has chosen Winona for one of its first regional testing sites,” said Winona Mayor Mark Peterson. “This site will give residents the ability to take an easy test and get quick results, whether they or their family have symptoms, or they believe they were exposed to someone who is sick. Testing is one way we keep our family and friends safe.”
The site is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The entrance is outside of the mall. While it is open to walk-ins, people are encouraged to make an appointment if they’re able to prevent crowding and long lines. Appointments can be made through the registration site here.
“Winona County is grateful for the opportunity to help bring saliva-based testing to our community,” said Ben Klinger, Winona County Emergency Management Director. “This increased access to testing will help us identify positive cases as early as possible and begin mitigation strategies to protect our community from COVID-19.”
Those who come for a test should avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample. Once they arrive at the site, they will self-administer the test by spitting into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process and ensure there is enough saliva to be tested.
Vault Health will operate the testing sites.
“Our saliva test is one of the most reliable COVID tests available with a 99 percent effective rate,” said Jason Feldman, Co-Founder and CEO of Vault Health. “It’s comfortable to take and can be done without in-person interactions, meaning no risk of virus transmission and no need for PPE to conduct the test. Minnesota is truly leading the way in unlocking testing for everyone.”