By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — State officials say the state’s fifth free saliva COVID-19 testing site will open Friday in Mankato.

The site will be located at the former Gander Mountain store, at 1940 Adams Street. It’ll be open Friday through Tuesday, noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m to 4 p.m. on weekends. Those seeking a test are encouraged to make an appointment here.

The state has already opened four free saliva testing sites, located in Duluth, Winona, Moorhead, and Brooklyn Park. Health officials say that after five more new saliva testing sites are up and running, the state will be able to process 60,000 tests a day.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm says that increasing testing capacity is important as COVID-19 continues to spread across the state.

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“The continued increase in cases across Greater Minnesota, tied to small, everyday gatherings, is very concerning,” she said in a statement Wednesday, adding: “When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing helps us slow the spread of COVID-19 and bridge to the better days we know are coming.”

The saliva tests are as effective as the nasal swabs — and more comfortable. Officials say the tests taken at the individual sites will be processed in a lab in the Twin Cities, with results returning to people via email in 24-48 hours.

People who want a test do not need to show symptoms. Before arriving at the facility, officials say people should not eat, drink, chewm or smoke anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a saliva sample, which will be self-administered.

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