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Minnesota to distribute nearly 2M home rapid COVID tests

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday announced yet another push to expand access to testing for COVID-19 as case rates continued to grow.

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ST. PAUL — The state of Minnesota plans to distribute nearly 2 million at-home rapid antigen tests and is set to open three more testing sites across the state in a push to fight the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Health has acquired 1.8 million rapid tests to distribute to families through schools — adding to the 1 million distributed last month, Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday, Jan. 4. Officials are also partnering with community organizations to distribute 150,000 rapid tests to communities "disproportionately impacted" by COVID-19. Groups including food banks and tribal health agencies plan to work with the state.

“Testing is a vital tool for helping lower the risk of COVID-19 for Minnesotans, their families and their communities, so it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a news release. “Test results only represent one moment in time, so it’s important for people to use the other layers of prevention, including vaccination and boosters, masking, and staying home when sick in order to prevent spread.”

In addition to the nearly 2 million home-use rapid tests, Walz has directed the Minnesota National Guard to expand testing in the Twin Cities metro area, where the guard will open two new testing sites. MDH plans to open a new testing site in the east-central Minnesota city of North Branch on Jan. 10.

More information on testing can be found at mn.gov/covid19/get-tested/testing-locations/community-testing.jsp . Walk-ins are available, but state health officials recommend setting up an appointment.

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After dropping from their early December peaks, public health risk metrics for COVID-19 are once again on the rise in Minnesota as the omicron variant dominates cases across the U.S.

As of Dec. 27, the seven-day rolling average for positive tests was 12%, above the high-risk threshold of 10%. The sudden growth in positive tests in the second half of December into early January puts the positive test rate at highs not seen since 2020. Meanwhile, the weekly average case rate per 100,000 people in Minnesota was 67 after dipping into the low 50s in mid-December.

Both rolling averages are on a seven-day delay to ensure an accurate picture of public health risk, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Following are the MDH COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Tuesday. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 16,204
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 67 (as of 12/27)
  • TOTAL CASES, INCLUDING REINFECTIONS: 1,045,170
  • TOTAL REINFECTIONS: 16,621
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 12% (as of 12/27)

Tuesday case numbers include weekend and holiday backlog.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 1,370
  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 51,145
  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 36
  • TOTAL DEATHS: 10,600

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 3,761,946 or 72.2% of ages 5 and up
  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 doses): 3,526,903 or 67.7% of ages 5 and up
  • BOOSTER DOSES ADMINISTERED: 1,749,899
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