By Kirsten Mitchell

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — With 109 million Americans expected to travel over the holidays, many are also traveling to get a COVID-19 test before visiting family.

The line for COVID-19 testing in Brooklyn Park Sunday stretched out the door.

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“We’ve been out here now three to four times and this is about the busiest it’s been,” Larry Romanko said.

Larry and Barb Romanko are flying to California on Wednesday to visit their family and grandchildren for the holidays.

“The grandson is gonna be 4 years old so he can’t be vaccinated yet, so they wanted to make sure we got tested so we don’t infect him,” Romanko said.

Traveling even further are the Yusuf brothers, who are heading to Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

“We had to wait in line, everyone was out getting their COVID test today but it went pretty smoothly,” Abdirahman Yusuf said.

For international travelers like them, a negative COVID-19 test is required no more than 24 hours prior to the flight.

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“It’s for my safety and the safety of others so I feel like it’s a good thing to go get tested before I leave,” Abdirizak Yusuf said.

Beginning Monday, the Minneapolis and St. Paul state community testing sites will open two hours early, at 9 a.m. Also beginning Monday, the Duluth state community testing site will add an additional testing day to its weekly operations. All three sites offer rapid antigen swab and saliva PCR testing. Appointments are strongly encouraged. Walk-ins are also available.

“I think it is prudent, especially for people who are gonna be around vulnerable individuals, to take added precautions heading into the holidays,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. “Try to use testing, make sure you’re boosted, take precautions within your settings in your social settings as well.”

Minneapolis Convention Center – Expanding Holiday Hours
– December 20-23: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
– December 27–30: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
– January 3: 11 a.m. –6 p.m.
– January 4-7: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Return to regular hours week of January 10

Duluth at the DECC – Adding Two Extra Days
– Adding Monday, December 20: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
– Adding Monday, December 27: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Return to regular hours January 3

Saint Paul at Roy Wilkins Auditorium – Expanding Holiday Hours
– December 20–23: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
– December 27–30: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
– January 3 – 6: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (January 3 in Exhibit Hall; January 4-6 in Ballroom)
Return to regular hours week of January 10

Locations and hours of all the state’s community testing sites can be found by clicking here.

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“Holiday gatherings are right around the corner and getting tested before getting together with family is vital to protecting loved ones from COVID-19,” said Gov. Tim Walz. “In addition to expanding capacity at these sites, we are also encouraging all Minnesotans to take advantage of the free testing offered at all 21 sites across the state, as well as through the at-home program. After getting vaccinated and boosted, get tested, and Celebrate Safely, Minnesota!”

Kirsten Mitchell