MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ramsey County began free COVID-19 testing Saturday for anyone who wants it, whether they have symptoms or not.

Greg Rhodes and his wife, Pang Foua, were two of about 600 people who got swabbed at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood.

About 200 of the patients were walk-ups. No insurance or ID is needed.

“As pastors, we also meet up with people,” Pang Foua said. “People are becoming more open to meeting up for counseling and prayer, so we want to make sure we’re healthy.”

More than 900 new positive cases were announced Saturday in the state, the most in at least two months.

Ramsey has seen the second most cases, and deaths, of Minnesota’s counties.

“We’ve seen numbers in Ramsey County go up for our various Asian populations as well as the Latinx population, so we are trending in the right direction but the numbers still are not good,” said Dr. Kelley Jewett of M Health Fairview.

Jewett and Dr. Lynne Ogawa, St. Paul-Ramsey County’s Public Health medical director, say testing’s so important because when someone knows they have COVID-19, they can prevent spreading it.

The county helps with that too.

“Once somebody is positive, they’ll be receiving a call from one of our folks at the county to talk to them about where they may have been exposed but also how to protect other people from getting infected,” Ogawa said.

The testing site ran out of swabs Saturday, which is why the county encourages people to make an appointment.

Antibody testing is not available. Jewett and Ogawa say not enough is known about what antibodies mean.

Having COVID-19, and even having antibodies, doesn’t mean someone can’t get infected again.

Free testing is full Sunday unless you’ve already registered. But open testing will be available on future weekends at Washington Technology Magnet School from 2 to 6 p.m.

Aldrich Arena will be a free testing site too from 2 to 6 p.m. for the next three Saturdays.

David Schuman

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