(FOX 9) - Minnesota is getting closer and closer to Gov. Tim Walz’s goal of completing 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day by Monday, May 4—a number he has said will be key to opening back up the state’s economy.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported Friday there were 4,553 new tests completed over a 24-hour period, more than 1,000 higher than the previous high watermark set the day before and within shouting distance of the governor’s goal.
With more testing, however, comes more positive cases of the coronavirus. MDH reported 594 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, more than double the number from this time last week. There have now been a total of 5,730 positive cases of the coronavirus in the state to date.
Nowhere is the impact of testing more starkly felt than Nobles County, home to the JBS pork processing plant. Health officials have focused testing in that area due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the plant.
Nobles County, population 22,000, has 866 confirmed cases as of Friday. By comparison, Ramsey County, population 550,000, has 405 confirmed cases.
WALZ’S 20,000 TESTS ‘MOONSHOT’
Last week, Walz announced a "moonshot" partnership between the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota to boost the state’s capacity to 20,000 tests per day within three to four weeks.
Everyone with symptoms is now eligible for a test and 127 testing sites have been set up around the state.
If fulfilled, it would make Minnesota one of the most aggressive states for testing.
MORE DRIVE-UP TESTING SITES
On Friday, HealthPartners announced it is increasing its COVID-19 testing capacity and expanding drive-up testing locations.
HealthPartners has created new high-volume, drive-up testing sites in St. Louis Park and White Bear Lake as well as increased the testing capacity at its existing drive-up testing locations in Plymouth, Lakeville, St. Paul, Stillwater, Hutchinson and Olivia, according to a news release.
With the expanded capacity, the health care provider said it will be able to test 2,000 patients a day starting next week.