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Minnesota offers more free at-home COVID-19 tests

2 June 2022

Minnesotans wanting more at-home COVID-19 tests can place a second free order online through the state.

Gov. Tim Walz announced the new testing option on Thursday, having previously urged Minnesotans to check their COVID-19 status if they have symptoms or before any family gatherings or group events.

“Minnesotans should continue to test if they have been exposed to the virus or have symptoms of COVID-19,” he said in a statement.

At-home tests have been growing in availability and popularity, but limit state surveillance of the pandemic because the results are not reported to public health authorities.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday reported another 4,813 identified infections — catching up on COVID-19 activity from the holiday weekend — along with 11 COVID-19 deaths in seniors. The state’s pandemic death toll is 12,649.

People can place a second order for two free kits of four nasal swab tests, or four kits and eight tests per household if they hadn’t placed an order before at mn.gov/covid19.

False negative results can be common with at-home rapid antigen tests — especially in people who are asymptomatic — so taking a second test is encouraged.

The initial state offer in March prompted 122,000 households in Minnesota to order 488,000 free tests. Alternatives include free state testing sites and the option to order as many as 16 free tests per household from the federal government.

The offer comes amid signs of a peak in the latest pandemic wave in Minnesota, caused by fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The seven-day average case rate has declined steadily since mid-May, though Minnesota reported a monthlong increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations from 289 on May 1 to 475 on Wednesday.

Doctors have reported that more COVID-19 hospitalizations now involve people admitted for other purposes who only test positive upon routine screening. Among those hospitalized Wednesday, only 8% needed intensive care — below the peak of 30% at other points in the two-year pandemic.

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