By Kirsten Mitchell

EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — As COVID-19 cases surge in Minnesota and across the country, doctors are urging people to defend themselves with what works: masks to stop the spread, and tests to know when you’re sick. But both can be tricky to come by.

“I went everywhere. Most of them sold out by 5 p.m. so it’s kind of like a race,” Eagan resident Andy Var said.

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Customers at CVS in Eagan came up short in the race to find at-home COVID-19 tests Monday night. But starting Wednesday, people can order up to four at-home rapid tests per household as part of the Biden administration’s effort to increase testing capacity.

Tests are free and can be ordered online at starting Jan. 19. The White House said tests will ship within seven to 12 days, and they will launch a call line for people who need help ordering.

(credit: CBS)

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“I do have one box at home, but again, I thought when you’re sick you don’t want to go out and look for a test, so I thought it’d be nice to have maybe one more on hand,” Eagan Resident Darcy Wetzel said.

On Friday, the CDC updated its mask guidance recommending N95 or KN95 masks for the best protection against the Omicron variant. To make sure the mask is approved, the CDC recommends to search for it on the NIOSH Certified Equipment List (CEL).

All NIOSH approved respirators have a testing and certification (TC) approval number (e.g., TC 84A-XXXX), which must be printed on the respirator.

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Since Jan. 15, private health insurance companies are required to cover the costs of multiple tests a month.

Kirsten Mitchell