Health officials announced on Wednesday that free rapid coronavirus tests are being offered across Minnesota for people with possible COVID-19 symptoms.
Tests that give results within one to three hours began offering at some in-person testing sites on Wednesday, and tests will be offered elsewhere next week.
On Wednesday metro stations, RiverCentre and Stillwater Armory began offering tests. The Starlite Center in Brooklyn Park will begin offering them on Friday. The site at Inver Grove Heights will open next week.
The tests that produce quick results, increasingly demanded by the public, are paid for by both government funds and insurance companies, and logistics and staffing are supported by the Minnesota National Guard.
Here are some important points:
DO NOT TAKE HOME
These are not home tests. You come in person and receive results within one to three hours. This is slower than home tests sold in stores, which can give results in as little as 15 minutes. But test kits to take home cost at least $ 20 and have been sold out in stores frequently in recent weeks. The technology is the same: antigen tests identify proteins associated with SARS-CoV-2.
WALK OR DESTINATION
Quick tests will be available on community test sites that will host visitors, but you can also make an appointment.
To see a list of all locations, their opening hours and planning information, go to MN.gov/covid19/get-tested/testing-locations.
Many of these sites already offer saliva tests. However, not all testing sites offering saliva tests have rapid tests. Everything is free. You don’t need medical insurance.
By the end of next week, rapid testing will be offered in the following cities: St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Stillwater, Brooklyn Center, Crookston, Hutchinson, Wadena, Hibbing, Albert Lee, Duluth and Moorhead.
Nasal (non-brain) swab
The rapid test includes a nasal swab. Basically, it is a cotton swab rolled around the nostril. They’re a little annoying, but these are not 2020 nasopharyngeal tests, in which an extra-long piece is shoved so deep into your nose that you feel as if your brain is being swabbed.
FOR SYMPTOMATIC PEOPLE
Health officials are recommending rapid tests for people with possible symptoms of COVID-19. Because that’s when they work best. Antigen tests are most effective when detecting coronavirus when there are many viral cells in your nose – for example, when you are sick and most infectious to others. So they’re great when you need to find out if you have a cold, allergy, or COVID-19.
However, they are not as sensitive as saliva tests using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which detect the genetic material of the virus. Thus, weekly or bi-weekly screening of people with no known symptoms or effects, rapid tests are not as helpful. Saliva PCR tests are best for this, although results usually take at least one day, and sometimes several.
CONFIRMATION OF SALIVA / PCR?
Because rapid antigen tests are not as sensitive as PCR tests, they may miss some false negatives. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that people with symptoms and a negative rapid test result continue to be isolated and have a PCR test to confirm they do not have COVID. (The online test site list includes both rapid tests and saliva options, and you can also take a free PCR saliva test at home via Zoom.)
Today’s rapid antigen tests approved for use in America have improved since their early days. (The shortcomings of the first generation of rapid tests may be one of the reasons why the virus entered the White House in 2020 and caused disgust for former President Donald Trump.) Today’s antigen tests are very “specific”, so they give false positives – they think that someone has COVID. when not – a rarity.
If you test positive for COVID-19, consider yourself positive. The Department of Health does not recommend confirming a rapid positive result with a PCR test. “A positive test is a positive test,” the department said in a statement.