MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health announced it’s opening the state’s second COVID-19 saliva testing site in Winona on Wednesday.

Free saliva tests will be offered at the Winona Mall starting Oct. 14, and will be offered to any Minnesotan who believes they need to be tested – including those not showing symptoms.

“We can’t let down our guard in our battle against COVID-19,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Saliva testing offers Minnesotans another option for seeking out testing when they need it. Increased access to testing and identifying positive cases as early as possible is a critical way to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to keep schools and the economy as open as possible.”

The Winona Mall site will be open five days a week. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

People are encouraged to make an appointment through the registration website, but walk-ins are welcome.

Health officials recommend those who are being tested to avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking for at least 30 minutes prior to providing a sample.

Once at the site, they will self-administer the test by spitting into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process and ensure there is enough saliva to be tested.

“Our saliva test is one of the most reliable COVID-19 tests available with a 99% effective rate,” said Jason Feldman, co-founder and CEO of Vault Health. “It’s comfortable to take and can be done without in-person interactions, meaning no risk of virus transmission and no need for PPE to conduct the test.”

Results are provided by email within 48 to 72 hours after being tested.

The state opened the first saliva testing site in Duluth on Sept. 23. Since opening, more than 7,000 people have been tested. State officials plan to open as many as eight more sites across the state in coming weeks.

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