The Minnesota Department of Health announced the continuation of a statewide push to increase access to “no-barrier” COVID-19 testing with a fifth week of testing locations. MDH is partnering with local public health officials and other community partners to offer testing this week in four Minnesota communities, including Crookston.

This “no-barrier” COVID-19 testing will be offered at the Crookston Sports Center on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon until 6 p.m. each day.  The testing also does not require insurance or identification. Over a four-week span, MDH has conducted around 25,000 tests across 21 sites all over the state. The Minnesota National Guard will continue providing logistical support for a number of these events. Tim Froeber, Crookston’s Emergency Management Director, worked with Parks and Rec director Scott Riopelle to secure the Sports Center as a venue for this mass testing event. “We offered the Crookston Sports Center which is a great facility,” Froeber said. “Lots of parking an easy access. We talked to Scott Riopelle and Angel Weasner about that, and they said it’d be a great idea. The state and National Guard said it would work perfectly for them.”

Health officials use testing data to identify communities that are experiencing workplace clusters, are close to bordering states, or have not yet had large-scale testing offered. This strategy helps increase the geographic balance of testing across Minnesota and respond where the health risk is greatest. Testing opportunities have been provided in many other cities, including Moorhead, Thief River Falls and Bemidji. Testing will be done with a nasal swab, and processed either by Mayo Clinic Laboratories or the University of Minnesota through the lab capacity created by the testing partnership. Polk County Public Health Director Sarah Reese said those who get tested this week should know their results in 2-3 days, and anyone who wants to be tested is encouraged to do so, even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. “People can come to this event and be tested if they are symptomatic and feeling those symptoms of COVID and are wondering,” Reese said. “People can also participate in this event even if they’re not having symptoms, are asymptomatic and are presumably feeling well.”

To avoid long lines, Reese said people are encouraged to pre-register for a time slot. “It’s very minimal information,” she said. “It’ll ask for your name, email address and the person’s permission to share the result back with them. The point of the pre-registration is to expedite the process. The goal is to have you in and out in 5-7 minutes. Because the temperature is going down, we are no longer doing the drive-up model, and that’s another reason why it’s great to pre-register. The state emergency operations center and the Minnesota National Guard have this down to a well-oiled science, so all of the safety precautions are in place.”

Reese said that she has heard about some concern in the community about a mass testing event increasing the number of positive cases to a point where schools in Crookston and Polk County would have to make a quick switch to an all-hybrid or all distance learning model. Reese clarified that all of the data from this week’s testing event will be evaluated carefully, and learning models won’t be changed unless the data shows that schools are being directly impacted by COVID. “We’re going to take a deeper dive into that data and look for patterns and trends,” Reese said. “Is there a connection to the school and does that have a reciprocal affect or not? The goal of course this whole time is keeping COVID out of schools and workplaces. It all goes back to staying home if you’re sick and taking those precautions that we each can be responsible for.”

The details and pre-registration links for the testing are listed below. Those who are unable to sign up online or need interpretation can call 1-855-612-0677 for assistance.

Tuesday, Oct. 20; Wednesday, Oct. 21; Thursday, Oct. 22
12-6 p.m.
Crookston Sports Center
801 Fisher Ave
Crookston, MN 56716
Crookston Community COVID-19 Testing: Schedule Appointment

For more information and to register for an appointment, visit the COVID-19 Community Testing webpage.