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Minnesota to offer free at-home tests amid rising COVID-19 cases

Minnesota to offer free at-home tests amid rising COVID-19 cases
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The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced on Thursday that Minnesotans will now be able to request free mail-in COVID-19 tests regardless of whether or not they are displaying symptoms.

In the announcement, MDH said Minnesota was partnering with Vault Medical Services to provide the mail-in testing.

Once the test is received, individuals will log in to a virtual waiting room and be guided through performing the test by a Vault test supervisor. They will then send the sample in a prepaid package to a lab after which test results will be emailed within 24 to 48 hours.

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Instead of the common nasal tests that many people have been receiving when testing for the coronavirus, Minnesotans will receive a saliva test which MDH says is just as accurate.

Those with health insurance will have to provide their insurance information, but if a person does not have health insurance, then the state will cover the cost.

MDH also specifies that the test currently available through the mail may not be right for everyone, especially those with low saliva production such as children under 4 and stroke victims.

Medical testing company LabCorp currently offers a similar service through its website, with tests either covered through insurance or with federal funding.

Minnesota has reported nearly 200,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 3,000 related deaths in total. Rates of COVID-19 cases have surged in Minnesota. Last week the state broke its record when it reported nearly 6,000 new cases in a single day.

On Wednesday, Minnesota governor Tim WalzTim WalzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans Former Minnesota Democratic leader quits party Minnesota to close bars, restaurants, gyms for four weeks: report MORE (D) announced new restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings. A statewide mask mandate for indoor businesses and public outdoor spaces in still currently in effect.

During his announcement on Wednesday, Walz also took aim at South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemMembers of law enforcement sue to halt marijuana legalization in South Dakota Thanksgiving gatherings could inflame COVID-19 crisis More GOP governors embrace mask mandates, but holdouts remain MORE (R), for her handling of the coronavirus in her state.

“The governor of South Dakota has taken to traveling to other states and criticizing others — now at a time when that state’s hospital capacity is overwhelmed,” said Walz.