Chanhassen pop-up test site opens after Carver County COVID-19 cluster

A new pop-up COVID-19 testing site has opened in Chanhassen after an outbreak of the virus among student athletes in Carver County.

The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota National Guard stood up the site in response to the outbreak, which has suddenly ended the seasons of a group of student athletes.

Zoe Thoma, of the WEST Express Swim Team, has stayed healthy and COVID-19-free her entire swimming season, but the outbreak ended her season two weeks early.

"It’s pretty frustrating that we were able to be safe and we have to shut down and not compete," said Thoma.

The 2-week pause in youth sports in Carver County comes after a spike in COVID-19 cases, many of which were tied to the highly contagious UK variant. Now, the Department of Health and the National Guard are opening a testing site at the Chanhassen Rec Center to keep the outbreak and that variant in check.

So far there have been more than 200 cases of the variant discovered in Minnesota, but by far the biggest outbreak has been in Carver County. As of Tuesday, the Health Department has identified 114 COVID-19 cases in the Carver County cluster. 29 of them are confirmed B.1.1.7. variants.

Officials are waiting on sequencing tests for another 49 cases.

The outbreak has been traced to students in nine schools, three community sports facilities, two sports clubs and even one child care center.

"Now, this is not the fault of Carver County," said Dan Huff, of MDH. "It’s not the fault of coaches. It’s not the fault of schools and it’s definitely not of kids. The fault lies in the virus."

Families and athletes have been left scrambling, leading coaches to look ahead.

"And in the long run, you’re going to be just fine," said Heidi Miler, of WEST Express Swim Team. "Stay positive and we’ll get more opportunities in swimming."

Only, however, if student athletes keep testing to keep the virus from spreading.

"Minnesota knows better than anything else what it’s like to lose a game in the fourth quarter," said Huff. "Let’s not let that happen here."

It’s advice that Thoma is taking to heart.

"We have to get over the hump of all of this and it’s important to take the necessary steps to get through it," she said.

The new COVID-19 testing site at the Chanhassen Rec Center is open until 8 p.m. Thursday and again from noon to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It will reopen again next Thursday through Saturday.