MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  State health leaders warn our COVID outbreak is like a strengthening winter storm.

Consider this: It took two full months for Minnesota to rack up its first 13,000 infections. The state just added that same amount in under two weeks. One reason the disease is so widespread is because younger adults often don’t even know they’re infected.

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WCCO looks at what could help and how one college campus is holding steady.

The state is working to limit the spread of COVID-19 from asymptomatic people. Soon it will focus on a rapid test for young adults, as Governor Tim Walz announced in Moorhead.

“I think what we’re looking at is massive testing with pop up kiosks and asking 18 to 35-year-olds pull over for 30 seconds. It’s really easy and we get a result instantly, that one is in 15 minutes and we start to break this,” Walz said.

While that’s expected in Minnesota in the coming weeks, St. Olaf College developed its own plan when students went back to school.

“We’re doing random sampling testing of our community just to make sure we’re getting a sense of if we have asymptomatic transmission in the community,” Enoch Blazis with St. Olaf said.

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That’s 300 tests per week or about 10% of the population. The data is added to the online dashboard.

The college says it’s a three-part approach that includes contact tracing and quarantining those in close contact with a positive case, plus campus community buy-in through set community standards.

Students say it makes a difference.

“I like the system because it keeps people on their toes. It like holds people accountable is the big thing,” student Maya Patty said.

It’s part of slowing the spread and to keep students learning on campus through the next three and a half weeks of the semester.

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“The campuses that have kind of been doing these things, I think it’s been paying off,” Blazis said.

Jennifer Mayerle