The where and how of local testing
November 20, 2020
There are two types of diagnostic tests in use across Minnesota: PCR tests and antigen tests.
PCR — which stands for polymerase chain reaction — tests are the nose-swab tests or the saliva tests and they are very accurate. They require specialized lab equipment to process the samples, so it takes some time — often days — to get results.
Antigen tests, or “rapid tests,” use either a nasal or throat swab to collect samples. They can deliver results pretty quickly, some as quickly as 15 minutes. The tradeoff is that antigen tests aren’t quite as accurate as PCR tests, especially in people who aren’t showing symptoms.
Carlton County testing sites include CMH Raiter Clinic, Min No Aya Win Human Services Center, MedExpress Urgent Care in Cloquet (they offer an antigen test with a 15-minute turnaround time), Gateway Family Clinic in Moose Lake and Cromwell Medical Clinic.
Almost all tests in the Carlton County area require an appointment in advance, but that is usually as simple as going online to make an appointment or calling the clinic to talk to a doctor and answering a few questions. Ask the clinic or doctor what type of tests they are offering.
There are a number of additional options in the Duluth-Superior area, including hospitals and clinics there.
There are also more innovative options available courtesy of the state and federal government:
-Saliva testing at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center is now available seven days a week inside entrances across from the harbor. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The saliva testing clinic in Duluth is free, doesn’t require a doctor’s order and results can arrive in two or three days; lines can be long. While it is open to walk-ins, people are encouraged to register in advance and make an appointment at mncovidtestingappt.as.me/schedule.php.
-The University of Wisconsin-Superior is hosting a rapid results testing site that can provide results in as little as 15 minutes. The temporary testing site is open from 2-6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Mertz Mortorelli Gym in the Marcovich Wellness Center. Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests that provide a result in about 15 minutes will be used, along with PCR confirmation tests for those who need them. The testing site is open to Minnesota and Wisconsin residents 5 years of age or older, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms. Registration is required and can be done at doineedacovid19test.com. A limited number of spots are available daily on a first come, first served basis.
-Additionally, all Minnesotans can now request a free, at-home saliva testing for Covid-19.
The state of Minnesota partnered with Vault Medical Services to provide an at-home saliva test to any person who feels they need one, and it’s free. Here’s how it works:
-Order your test online at https://learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota. This link also has complete information on how to take a test and ship your sample to the lab using a prepaid UPS package.
-Once submitted, you’ll get your lab results in 24-48 hours.
-Each Covid-19 test will need a unique email address.
-A photo ID will be required so that the test supervisor can confirm your identity; any photo ID will work.
-You may be asked for your insurance information if you have it, but it is not required to test at home.
In Carlton County, PCR test results are generally taking 2-5 days. While people are waiting for results, they should stay home and not assume they’re negative. Better to assume you’re positive. Start making a list of people you were in contact with for two days before symptoms started.