MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new Twin Cities testing site hopes to get the state one step closer to the goal of testing 5,000 people a day.

North Memorial Health launched one of five new sites Thursday. You do not need a doctor referral to get a test.

It was day one for North Memorial’s new molecular testing site for COVID-19. Up until this point, the hospital system mainly tested health care workers and hospitalized patients at their clinics.

“We need people to have easy access to testing because it helps prevent the spread,” North Memorial Health CEO J Kevin Croston said.

A parking lot site behind North Memorial’s Health Specialty Center requires that a person has at least one symptom of COVID-19: That could be fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath.

Croston says they were able to ramp up testing due to more supplies.

“Through the work of the governor, the Mayo Clinic, and University of Minnesota, they’ve been able to free up supplies for us,” Croston said.

While the site behind North Memorial’s Health Specialty Center is made for drive-up testing, there is also an option to walk up if someone doesn’t have a vehicle.

Croston estimates this site, along with four others in the works across the Twin Cities, could get them testing thousands of people a day.

“We probably were averaging just about 100 a day. I would guess we’ll be able to get to 2,000 to 3,000 a day,” Croston said.

He says proceeding with the other four sites will depend on the supply chain of testing equipment.

The next site planned to open will likely be in North Minneapolis as early as next week, and another in Minnetonka. Croston says he recognizes some people even without clear COVID-19 symptoms may try to get tested.

“Please understand that resources are still limited somewhat and that you’re taking away potentially from someone who really needs it,” Croston said.

You do need a valid ID and will have to pre-register. The North Memorial location will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Kate Raddatz

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