Health officials closing 4 COVID-19 community testing sites, opening 2

Sandwich board sign outside of two doors
A sign outside the COVID-19 testing site at the Minneapolis Convention Center, which opened in November.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News 2020

Four of the state’s 23 community testing sites will be closing this week, with two new sites opening.

Three sites that have been hosted at National Guard armories during the pandemic will be closing — in Stillwater, Hutchinson and St. Cloud — on Friday.

The Minnesota Department of Health is also planning to shut down the testing site at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul.

While these sites are closing, the state will be opening up a new testing site in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood in a former Herberger’s store. State health officials say the site will be able to do up to 5,000 rapid antigen tests a day. It will be open Sunday through Friday. MDH says walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred.

MDH says the site will offer more consistency in hours, as both the Roy Wilkins Auditorium and Stillwater Armory sites were closed to host events from time to time.

The state is also opening a site on St. Cloud State University’s campus to replace the closing Armory site.

Overall, testing at community sites is down to lows not seen since last summer - right before the Omicron variant hit, when the state was averaging 4,000 to 6,000 tests per day. According to data MDH sent MPR News, that number was as high as 50,000 a day over the winter, but was down to more than 8,000 a day in April 2022.

While cases have been going up in recent weeks, home COVID tests are much more widely available.

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