CHISHOLM — Iron Rangers are encouraged to participate in a two-day, free COVID-19 community testing event.

The Minnesota Department of Health and St. Louis County Public Health will hold the testing from noon to 7 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the St. Louis County Fairgrounds.

The testing is open to everyone, including those without symptoms, and does not require medical insurance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic remains a serious issue for our community, and I encourage anyone who is worried that they have been exposed to it to take advantage of this free testing opportunity,” State Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said in a press release last Friday. “While our cases have been low, if you have any doubt about possibly contracting this virus or if you just want to know if you have it but are asymptomatic, this is an opportunity to get tested free of charge.”

State Rep. Julie Sandstede, DFL-Hibbing, also encouraged Range residents to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Getting tested can not only help with individual peace of mind, but knowing your COVID-19 status can help you protect those around you,” she stated in a news release Monday. “I encourage everyone who wants a test to get one through the safe, efficient, and free opportunity in Chisholm.”

Sandstede added, “We all have an important role to play in slowing the spread of this virus, and I hope Minnesotans will continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask in public and when around others, and stay home when they are sick.”

The free testing comes as St. Louis County continues to report an uptick in coronavirus cases.

As of Monday, the Minnesota Health Department reported 650 newly confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, bringing the total positive cases to 51,803 and 1,576 deaths. Six of those new cases were in St. Louis County, which as of Monday had 331 confirmed cases.

“We are seeing an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Iron Range communities, and many appear to have been spread through community transmission,” Amy Westbrook, director of the St. Louis County Public Health Division, wrote in the news release last week. “We encourage everyone to be tested. People may be asymptomatic and not realize they have the virus and could unknowingly spread it to others.”

In recent weeks, the city of Virginia announced a student-athlete who tested positive for the virus and the first youth case in the region, which prompted the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to shut down its baseball and softball programs for two weeks.

Previously, the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa reported that it had one band member in Vermilion test positive for the virus. Employees at United Taconite, Minorca Mine and Minntac have become infected, as well.

To keep wait times short during the free testing, attendees are asked to register for an appointment at the MDH website. www.health.state.mn.us

There is also a link to sign up at stlouiscountymn.gov/COVID19. Individuals are allowed to be tested without an appointment, but they may have to wait or be directed to come back later.

Anyone who is unable to sign up online, or who needs a translator, can call 1-855-612-0677 for assistance. A statewide map of testing locations is also available on the state’s COVID-19 response webpage.

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