MINNEAPOLIS — Gov. Tim Walz announced plans Tuesday to open three more community testing sites for COVID-19 as the rapid spread of the omicron variant puts new strains on Minnesota’s testing capacity.
Minnesota is coming off its deadliest month of the pandemic for 2021, with 874 deaths reported in December, according to updated figures posted Tuesday. The state’s seven-day test positivity rate was 12% as of Dec. 27, the highest of the year. The state has now recorded 1,045,170 total cases and 10,600 deaths since the pandemic reached the state in March 2020.
The surge in cases has fueled demand for testing. That prompted the governor’s announcement Tuesday of new community testing sites, expanded rapid testing availability and more tests for schools.
“Testing is a key tool for Minnesotans looking to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19 – especially the new, contagious Omicron variant,” Walz said in a statement.
The National Guard and Minnesota Department of Health will open new community testing sites in Anoka, Cottage Grove and North Branch. The North Branch site will open Monday. Details on the other sites will be announced in the coming days.
The governor’s office also said the state has secured an additional 1.8 million at-home rapid tests for Minnesota schools, on top of the initial 1 million announced last month. The state will also distribute 150,000 at-home rapid test kits in cooperation with local public and tribal health agencies, food banks and other partners.