10-13-2020 COVID-19 Update: Brooklyn Park to Get Saliva Testing Site
MN Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update for 10-13-2020
TODAY: MN Governor Walz to Join Department of Health Media Briefing
On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Governor Tim Walz and other state and local officials participated in the daily COVID-19 media briefing to provide updates on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19.
MDH COVID-19 October 13 Update:
- Globally, 38 million cases since pandemic began; 1.08 million deaths
- In U.S., 7.85 million cases since start of pandemic; 215,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 114,574 cumulative cases (up 1,150 cases)
- Of the 114,574 cases, 102,624 (90%) are no longer considered infectious
- In Minnesota, 2,151 total deaths (up 7 over prior day)
- Age breakdown of 7 new deaths: 1 in 70s, 5 in 80s, 1 in 90s
- Neighboring states (Wisconsin and the Dakotas) are among highest in nations for new infections
Update from Governor Walz:
- Wanted to give Minnesota an update on things Minnesotans can and cannot do to make a difference in curbing spread of COVID-19. “Some walk away not knowing they had it.” “Others …go into the hospital and wake up 14 days later in a coma.”
- Community spread continues to go up.
- 38% of Minnesota’s lab-confirmed infections over past week have come from unknown community sources. State’s goal is no more than 30%.
- Upper Midwest is now a hotspot as we’ve seen in other parts of the country.
- “We want to cut off that community spread by making sure people get tested as easily and as quickly and as close to their home as they possibly can,” said Walz.
- New saliva testing sites opening across state, including in Brooklyn Park.
- In addition to Brooklyn Park, four more metro area saliva testing sites will eventually open.
- In comparison to saliva testing, the nasal swabs for many people felt like they “went all the way into your brain,” said Walz.
Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff:
- Part of strategy to keep schools open and economy going is testing. Saliva testing is part of that strategy, Huff said.
- “Minnesota has come a long way in our testing capacity,” said Huff.
- Cases are growing faster than testing is, he said.
- Next week, Tuesday, Oct. 20, first saliva testing site in metro area opening. It will be located in Brooklyn Park in former OfficeMax at Starlite Center shopping area. It will be open 7 days a week.
- State will bill insurance, but if you are uninsured or underinsured you will not receive a bill for testing, said Huff.
- State’s saliva testing program will also include a mail-order program.
- The COVID-19 Testing at Home program will allow Minnesotans to register online and receive their at-home testing kit via UPS.
- State officials are finalizing some details of the program and expect to launch a pilot in several counties soon.
- The program is also being piloted by faculty and staff at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and University.
- New saliva lab in Oakdale expected to process 30,000 tests per day, doubling state’s testing capacity. Lab expected to be fully ready in November.
Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde:
- “We know that this testing site is going to be important,” said Lunde, noting that health care or access to transportation in his community is not necessarily there. 20% is foreign born in Brooklyn Park.
- Many of these foreign born are “the backbone of our health care system.” Many work as frontline health care attendants.
- These testing site facilities will also eventually help in delivering vaccines.
- “Our communities are very tight knit,” but can lead to superspreader situations, because of many of these communities are so intertwined in various activities.
- “We are excited for this,” Lunde said about the saliva testing site. “When I talk to residents, talk to business owners, talk to people who’ve lost their jobs, people who need their work, not one person has ever asked me for a Democratic solution or a Republican solution. What they’ve asked for is a Minnesota solution to this. I think this is delivering that. People just want to be safe. They just want to survive this.”
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Per Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, saliva testing “is easy, it’s painless, it’s quick.” You’re in and out in 10 minutes. Duluth had state’s first saliva testing site.
- NOTE, per Huff, saliva testing at these sites is a PCR molecular test and has a very high accuracy rating close to the nasal swab testing (within a couple percentage points)
- “It’s just a different sample collection method,” said Huff.
- Saliva testing access is “game changing,” said Larson. “It really changes how you feel and move through your community.”
- On the possibility of “dialing back,” like Wisconsin did, Walz said “the data and the facts will drive us.” “We are certainly in a better place than our surrounding neighbors, but that can change very, very quickly.”