MOORHEAD — Moorhead city officials made a spit stop Friday afternoon, Oct. 16, at the former Edison Elementary School, where a saliva testing site for COVID-19 was being set up.
Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd was among those who took part in what served as a not-so-dry run for public testing scheduled to begin Saturday at 10 a.m.
After going through the saliva collection process, Judd declared it quick and painless and he voiced his thanks to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and others who helped bring the testing site to Moorhead, one of what will ultimately be ten saliva testing sites around the state.
"Quick" is a relative term and for some who took part in Friday's testing it took a while to fill their testing vial.
In general, the entire process should take about ten minutes for most people, according to officials who set up the testing site Friday.
The saliva test is said to be far more comfortable than a nasal swab and at the former Edison Elementary site at 1110 14th St. S., Moorhead, it will be available at no cost to any Minnesotan who believes they need a COVID-19 test, with or without symptoms.
Other things to know about the saliva testing site and process:
• Identification is not required, though those getting tested need to provide an email address and phone number to receive results.
• Insurance is not required, though if someone has insurance, they will need to show their insurance card. The test is completely free, whether or not someone has insurance, and people will not receive a bill.
• Saliva testing may not be right for those with low saliva production, such as children under age 4 or someone who has suffered a stroke.
The site will be open from noon to 7 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.
It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Full details can be found on the COVID-19 Community Saliva Testing website.
The site is expected to remain in operation at least through the remainder of 2020, according to Anne O'Connor, who is with Minnesota's Emergency Operations Center.
While Minnesotans may avail themselves of the Moorhead test site for free, O'Connor said it is possible others will eventually be able to do so as well, though she said officials were still working on that question.
The state of Minnesota has contracted with a company called Vault Health to conduct the testing.
Shawn Baxley, vice president of field operations for Vault Health, said that to begin with the saliva tests will be overnighted to a lab in New Jersey for processing. Those getting tested can expect to receive their results in 48 to 72 hours.
He said that wait time should shorten once test samples start going to a lab in Minnesota sometime next week.