By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Twin Cities’ first saliva testing location for COVID-19 will be opening Friday.

State health officials announced the saliva testing site will be opening in St. Paul at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, which is part of the Saint Paul RiverCentre complex. It will be the state’s seventh saliva testing to open in the state.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the opening comes as the state is seeing an alarming jump in COVID-19 cases, with neighboring states seeing even bigger spikes.

“The good news is that Minnesotans have it in their power to make things better if everyone does their part,” she said. “Testing is a key part of our strategy, and we’ve made great progress in removing obstacles to testing thanks to strong partnerships across the state. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing helps us slow the spread of COVID-19 and move us closer to the day when we have safe and effective vaccines.”

The testing, which is free, will be available seven days a week. Weekday hours are noon to 7 p.m. and weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Changes to testing hours will be reevaluated as the disease progresses in Minnesota. Appointments can be made here.

“Testing is free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID-19 test, including those who are asymptomatic. Participants will be asked for their health insurance information so the state can bill their insurance company on their behalf. If a person is uninsured or for any reason insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains completely free to everyone,” the Minnesota Department of Health said.

The first saliva testing location in the state opened in Duluth on Sept. 23. Since then, locations have opened in Winona, Moorhead, Brooklyn Park, Mankato and St. Cloud. At least three more locations are planned for the Twin Cities area in the coming weeks.

The tests will be processed at a new saliva lab in Oakdale with results provided via email within 24 to 48 hours.

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