Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that Minnesota now has the capacity to test as many as 20,000 residents per day for COVID-19.
Under a partnership with the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, the state can now perform up to 20,000 molecular and 15,000 serology tests per day, Walz’s office said in a press release.
“This is not a state that’s going to just get through COVID-19; this is a state that’s going to lead this nation and the world out of this,” Walz said during a Wednesday press briefing. “The plan that we’ve put in place should allow Minnesota to be testing at a rate higher than any place else in the country, potentially the world.”
Walz said the increased testing capacity will “help to assure that every person in the state with symptoms of COVID-19 gets tested.”
The expanded testing is funded in part by $36 million from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund recently established by the Legislature, Walz’s office said. The Minnesota Department of Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Minnesota will create a “central lab” to accommodate the expanded testing.
“Mayo Clinic has been leading the nation in COVID-19 testing since the pandemic’s emergence. As always, Mayo Clinic continues to put Minnesota first,” said William Morice, president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayo Clinic has prioritized Minnesota’s needs, offering the state unlimited access to Mayo’s unmatched testing capabilities and providing assistance and expertise whenever asked. Mayo’s commitment continues today as we pledge further support for Minnesota’s statewide testing strategy,” he continued.
Walz said the expanded testing will include intensive testing of vulnerable populations, such as the homeless and nursing home residents, as well as health care workers, communities of color and American Indian populations, and the workforce for critical infrastructure.
Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the increased testing capacity “will improve our understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading in Minnesota” and allow the state to identify emerging hotspots of infection.
The governor previously said Minnesota would need to perform 5,000 tests per day before it could begin reopening the economy. As of Wednesday, the state had completed 49,344 tests, meaning it can now complete in just three days the number of tests that have been performed since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are committed to our vital public health obligation of aggressively expanding access to COVID-19 testing throughout the state. It will be core to any effort to safely reopen our state,” said Jakub Tolar, dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School. “This is a complex health challenge. It is only fitting that two of Minnesota’s preeminent research institutions answer the call together in our commitment to tackling this pandemic.”
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