Minnesota expands test-to-treat options and adjusts COVID-19 community testing network


Two more Minnesota COVID-19 testing sites will soon offer test-to-treat options: MSP Airport, beginning on June 23, and Saint Paul-Midway, beginning on June 27.

At community test-to-treat sites, Minnesotans can get tested for COVID-19 and, if positive and determined to be high-risk, receive a prescription for medication at the same time. The additional test-to-treat sites come as the state resizes its overall community testing network in light of falling demand and wide testing availability across the state.


Test-to-treat expands

Minnesota will offer test-to-treat at two existing community testing sites: MSP Airport, beginning June 23, and Saint Paul-Midway, on June 27. The federal government will support test-to-treat at MSP Airport and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will lead operations at Saint Paul-Midway. MSP Airport will now offer rapid testing to all patients.

The two sites join three federally supported community test-to-treat sites in Brooklyn Park, Moorhead, and Duluth. Since opening earlier this month, the sites have prescribed medication to more than 300 Minnesotans.


“COVID-19 medication is a very important tool in our toolbox to help prevent severe disease and keep people out of the hospital, and test-to-treat makes it easier for eligible Minnesotans to receive these medicines,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Minnesotans who feel ill and are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 should visit a test-to-treat site or speak to their health care provider to see if medication is right for them. We are grateful to our federal partners and testing site hosts who are helping us make these resources more accessible.”


All of the community test-to-treat sites will continue to test Minnesotans at no cost. Minnesotans who test positive for COVID-19 via a rapid antigen test will be able to choose to be evaluated on site by a clinician and be given a prescription for the antiviral medication Paxlovid if it is deemed appropriate. Walk-ins are accepted but appointments are recommended at mn.gov/covid19.

MDH and its testing partners are working with the Board of Pharmacy to complete the steps necessary for dispensing medication on-site at test-to-treat locations. Until that is authorized, prescriptions are sent to either a pharmacy of a patients’ choosing or a nearby pharmacy to be filled.


Minnesotans seeking medication at community test-to-treat sites should be prepared to provide details of their medical history, particularly their current medications, to the on-site clinician. Only patients deemed high risk by the clinician will receive a prescription for Paxlovid.

COVID-19 therapeutics are not right for everyone, but they can reduce severe illness or risk of hospitalization among patients who are unvaccinated, elderly, or have other risk factors. Learn more about COVID-19 medication on the Treatments page on the Minnesota COVID-19 Response website.


The new community test-to-treat locations will join the existing 61 test-to-treat sites that are already operating statewide across Minnesota, mostly located at clinics or pharmacies with Minute Clinics. Minnesotans can find other test-to-treat sites using the federal government’s Test to Treat locator. Some sites may require appointments.


Outside of the test-to-treat program, medications are available through Minnesotans’ health care providers. Minnesotans who test positive for COVID-19 should reach out to their doctor or health care provider to see if treatment is right for them.


To accommodate test-to-treat at MSP Airport, the site’s Community Vaccination operation will close effective June 30. Minnesotans can find other vaccination locations at mn.gov/vaccine.


Community testing network to resize

Because testing demand is falling rapidly around Minnesota, to preserve state resources and capacity for any future case surge, and due to widely available free testing through other providers, MDH is resizing its Community Testing network.


Free COVID-19 testing is available from providers including clinics and pharmacies. Minnesotans can receive free at-home rapid testing in the mail from the state (at Order your free at-home rapid tests) and federal governments (at COVID.gov), and through reimbursement from health insurers. See “Where to find COVID-19 testing” below.


June 29, 2022, will be the final day of regular COVID-19 testing at the following testing locations:

  • Albert Lea (last day June 25)

  • Bemidji

  • Bloomington

  • Marshall

  • Morris (last day June 28)

  • North Branch (last day June 28)

  • Wadena (last day June 28)

  • Winona

The state’s three busiest Twin Cities testing sites, and four busiest Greater Minnesota testing sites, will remain open until further notice:

  • Brooklyn Park (including test-to-treat)

  • Duluth (including test-to-treat)

  • Mankato

  • MSP Airport (test-to-treat beginning on June 23)

  • Moorhead (including test-to-treat)

  • St. Cloud

  • Saint Paul-Midway (test-to-treat beginning on June 27)

Visit mn.gov/covid19 for a list of operating hours and addresses and to make an appointment.


Last week, Minnesota’s Community Testing sites conducted 7,300 tests. That represents a 92% decline in testing from peak demand in January, when state testing sites conducted 87,000 tests per week, and a 33% decline from one month ago.


These changes to testing locations will still allow Minnesotans to receive rapid and PCR testing when they need it in the regions of the state with the highest demand. Because the new testing network is less costly, it will allow Minnesota to plan for and implement widespread testing operations in the future, if COVID-19 cases surge and testing demand rises.


To help local partners provide testing resources to Minnesota, MDH is offering 240,000 at-home rapid tests (120,000 kits) to local public health, tribal health agencies, COVID-19 Community Coordinators, shelters, and food shelves to distribute to families. Partners who order these tests will communicate directly to Minnesotans about free testing availability.


Where to find COVID-19 testing

Minnesotans have many COVID-19 testing resources.

  • Health care systems, clinics, pharmacies, local public health, and other private labs are offering free testing for Minnesotans. A continuously updated list of participating sites can be found at Find Testing Locations.

  • Under a Biden Administration order, insurers are required to cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 test kits per month for enrollees. Check with your insurance company about ways to get free rapid testing from pharmacies.

  • Minnesotans can order up to four at-home rapid test kits (eight tests) for free from the State. Visit Order your free at-home rapid tests.

  • Minnesotans can request up to eight free rapid at-home test kits (16 tests) per household at COVID.gov.

  • Under the Biden Administration’s test-to-treat program, 61 Minnesota pharmacies and community clinics are conducting on-site rapid testing and prescribing anti-viral medicine for at-risk individuals who test positive. Find a list of participating providers at the federal government’s Test to Treat locator.

When to get tested

  • Testing continues to be an important tool for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

  • To keep COVID-19 from spreading, you should use testing if:

  • You have symptoms of the virus.

  • You have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

  • You are returning from international or domestic travel.

  • You attended a high-risk event.

  • You work in a setting that has regular, close contact with many people.

  • Minnesotans can find up-to-date guidance on when to get tested at MDH: COVID-19 Testing.

SOURCE:

1 view0 comments