In the first two days the Anoka site was open, more than 700 people were tested each day. Those large numbers are expected to continue as the virus spread worsens.
“Yes there is going to be an increased amount of uncontrollable community spread, there’ going to be more people coming out because of that,” said Jonelle Hubbard, Director of Anoka County Public Health Services. “Because we have no barriers testing, and you can just come, right?”
No barriers testing means its open for free to any Minnesotan who wants to be tested whether they have symptoms or not. Officials say they won’t be surprised if more people want to be tested after holiday gatherings.
“We certainly saw a spike of folks accessing testing after the really big numbers started to come out,” said Andrea Vaubel of the Minnesota Emergency Operations Center. “Certainly we’re glad that the timing worked out that we have this testing available and expanded statewide so people can access it if they need it.”
The Anoka Armory is one of eleven testing sites that just opened up across the state. It offers saliva testing. After placing your saliva in a tube, Vaubel says results should be ready in 48 to 72 hours. Despite the large numbers of people potentially wanting to be tested, Vaubel says it goes pretty quickly.
“We have quite a few tables here, and we have people socially distanced on either side of the table. Depending on how long it takes to get that amount of saliva that we need, it can be pretty quick,” said Vaubel.
Anoka County’s Public Health Director, Jonelle Hubbard, says having the test site here is valuable to the community.
“Without that, we do not have the capacity within just our public health department to do mass community testing,” said Hubbard. “So having that testing expertise in our community is very valuable.”
Previously, mobile testing went to communities where COVID was spiking. But with increases now all over the state, officials say setting up for longer periods of time in armories allows more testing access to more people.
“We have never planned for a pandemic like this,” says Hubbard. “Nothing that was this intense and this long. The longevity here is the most critical part of this response.”
If you go, officials say making an appointment online can help make things go quicker. Testing at the Anoka Armory will continue through the end of January.