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Winona COVID-19 saliva testing site opens on Wednesday

WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- It's marketed as a quick, easy way to get COVID-19 results. Saliva testing is expanding across Minnesota, and Winona is joining in on that effort.

The state's second saliva testing site opens at Winona Mall on Wednesday. Minnesota Department of Health officials said the location can serve as a "regional hub" for southeast Minnesotans. It will also provide testing access for Winona County residents and Winona State University students.

"We know this site will increase access to testing among people who need it," said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection.

It will offer free testing to anyone who needs it from Wednesday through Sunday. It is located at the back of the mall near the Department of Motor Vehicles facing Highway 61. The entrance is on the outside of the mall.

People are encouraged to make appointments online to prevent long lines. That can be done through this link.

Here are the hours for the testing site:

Wednesday through Friday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vault Health is operating the testing site. Tests will be shipped to the company's New Jersey lab until Oct. 19, when Minnesota begins processing saliva tests in Oakdale.

"Our saliva test is one of the most reliable COVID-19 tests available with a 99% effective rate," said the company's CEO Jason Feldman. "It’s comfortable to take and can be done without in-person interactions, meaning no risk of virus transmission and no need for PPE to conduct the test. Minnesota is truly leading the way in unlocking testing for everyone.”

Health officials said the results will be sent via email in 48 to 72 hours.

The state's first testing site opened in Duluth three weeks ago. It has already processed 8,000 tests, according to MDH.

A facility in Moorhead opens on Saturday as well as another in Brooklyn Park on Tuesday, per MDH. Six more sites are opening later this month as well.

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Byron Tollefson

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