The Anoka Armory now offers free, “no barrier” COVID-19 testing.

Saliva testing at the Anoka Armory, 408 Main St. E., began Monday, Nov. 16, according to an Anoka County spokesperson, a day earlier than originally announced by the state. The Minnesota Department of Health announced Nov. 12 that Anoka would be among 11 new sites providing free access to tests.

Testing at the Anoka location is available noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 16-20, Nov. 23-24, Dec. 1-4, Dec. 8-11, Dec. 15-19, Dec. 21-22, Dec. 28-30, Jan. 4-7, Jan. 12-16, Jan. 19-22 and Jan. 26-30, according to Anoka County.

If you are being tested, you should not chew gum, eat, drink or smoke for 30 minutes prior to testing. Bring a smartphone (if you don't have a smartphone, one will be provided), and if you have health insurance, bring your insurance card with you. The cost of the test will be covered 100%, whether or not you have insurance, but if you have insurance, the state may ask your insurance company to help pay for your test. Results will be emailed within 24-48 hours. If you don’t have an email, you’ll get a call at the phone number you provide.

Signing up for an appointment time keeps wait times shorter and ensures space is available. Sign up by visiting tinyurl.com/yymrgdgp and selecting the Anoka Armory tab.

Visit tinyurl.com/y32yasfd for more information on testing options.

In addition to the new testing sites, the COVID-19 Test at Home program is now available to all Minnesotans across the state, the Department of Health announced. This is an expansion from the pilot, which was previously made available in 23 counties and the Red Lake Nation.

“Minnesota is entering the most difficult phase of the pandemic yet,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in statement. “We have record levels of new cases, high hospitalization numbers, and increased community spread. At the same time, we know promising vaccines are entering new stages of development.

“Right now, our job is to build a bridge to that day when safe and effective vaccines are widely available. We do that by working together to limit the impacts of COVID-19 on our families and communities through the simple steps we know make a difference. That includes social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate. This latest expansion of testing makes that last part easier by providing Minnesotans with an unprecedented level of access to COVID-19 tests, putting nearly every Minnesotan just three days from a test result.”

All of the new testing sites, as well as the mail order program, offer COVID-19 testing to any Minnesotan who wants to be tested, whether they have symptoms or not, and does not require insurance. Some sites will offer nasal swab testing, others will offer saliva testing. They will stay in operation until at least the end of the year to provide sustained testing capacity across the state, according to the health department.

The sites at National Guard armories will be staffed by a combination of local public health staff and members of the Minnesota National Guard. Nearly 100 members of the National Guard are being deployed to provide support with logistics, registration, check in and check out, supply management and transportation. These sites will replace the “pop-up” style of community testing events, which for the past several months would arrive in a community for two to three days of testing.

“Our mobile community testing events allowed us to test thousands of Minnesotans, in all corners of the state,” Dan Huff, assistant commissioner for health protection, said in a statement. “We came to communities experiencing spikes in cases or hotspots. But now, every community is seeing spikes in cases. By placing these testing sites in armories for the time being, we’re able to spend more time providing tests, instead of setting up new testing sites every week. This expansion allows us to be more efficient and provide more access to more people.”

Through the COVID-19 Test at Home program, any person in Minnesota can order a saliva test to be delivered at their home with expedited shipping. The test is then sent to the new lab in Oakdale for processing.

Find more information about the COVID-19 Test at Home program and find the link to order a test at tinyurl.com/yy4rvuhq.

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