ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State health officials are apologizing for bungled COVID-19 testing at a St. Paul nursing home done by a Minnesota National Guard unit this week.

Test samples from 300 residents and staff members at the Episcopal Church Home were ruined because they were not stored in coolers while being transported to labs at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

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The guard unit was deployed to the nursing home Monday as part of the state’s effort to ramp up testing at long-term care facilities.

Because there weren’t enough nasal swabs for the tests, a state health official allowed oral swabs to be used, which caused pain and bloody noses for some who were tested, the Star Tribune reported.

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An elder care advocate said the incident raises serious questions about whether Minnesota can effectively carry out widespread testing.

“This just further erodes any trust that we have had in the Department of Health,” said Kris Sundberg, executive director of Elder Voice Family Advocates. “I think we have a long way to go to really have the clearly thought-out protocols we need in order to do (widespread) testing.”

The National Guard referred questions to the Department of Health.

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