Minnesota clinics work to meet demand as state ramps up COVID-19 testing

This site in St. Paul is allowing drive-up COVID-19 test collection with an appointment.

Just three days after Governor Tim Walz unveiled a partnership to increase coronavirus testing across the state, the number of people tested in a single day has nearly doubled.

Friday, the state rolled out an online dashboard to help people track down their nearest testing site.

In St. Paul, East Side Family Clinic (run by Minnesota Community Care) is providing drive-up testing. At the downtown St. Paul location, they are also allowing walk-up testing.

They’ve been testing people in vulnerable populations for a few weeks now but will be ramping things up come Monday.

Governor Tim Walz announced Wednesday that the state, alongside the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, will now be testing all Minnesotans who have symptoms of COVID-19 with an eventual goal of 20,000.

"The calls started coming in, people started driving up and they were wanting to be tested," said East Side Clinic Administrator Kathryn Long.

On Friday, the state launched a testing location website with sites where tests are available. But many clinics weren’t ready for the influx.

"We desperately wanted to provide that service but on Friday afternoon, we weren’t quite set up to do that in a way that was meaningful," explained Long.

But they’re working to get there. At East Side Clinic, there is a drive-up collection site where those with appointments will get tested. They’re hoping by next week they’ll be able to support 100 tests a day provided by Mayo Clinic.

"It’s better to test, better to know and I think testing folks In the community, knowing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is critical to building mitigation strategies," said Minnesota Community Care CEO Reuben Moore.

Allina Health tells us they have four curbside collection sites right now and will be adding more in the coming weeks where up to 500 tests could be done a day.

"The phone volumes have gone up substantially so there’s obviously a lot of demand," said Heather Dawson of  Allina Health. "We’ll work as rapidly as we can to expand to make sure we meet the demand for our patients."