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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota Department of Health is gearing up for a communitywide COVID-19 testing event in Rochester later this week.

The State Health Department says a temporary testing site will be operational on Friday and Saturday at the 318 Commons Building in downtown Rochester. Officials say appointments are strongly encouraged but they are not required.

“Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Through a robust, collaborative statewide testing program, we have made great progress in removing obstacles to testing. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing can help us slow the spread of COVID-19 and bridge to the better days we know are coming.”

The testing will be offered to anyone wishing to be tested free of charge. Those seeking a test will be asked for their health insurance information but if they are uninsured or if their insurance does not cover all of the cost, the state will pay to avoid any out of pocket expense for the participants.

Saliva samples will be collected, which means the test takers need to avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes prior to taking the test. Appointments can be made by registering at Vault Health. The results will be emailed to the test subjects in about 48 to 72 hours.

The testing site on the second floor of the 318 Commons Building will be available from noon to 6 PM on both Friday and Saturday.

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