IRON RANGE — The Minnesota and St. Louis County health departments are partnering to offer free COVID-19 tests in Ely.

The event is scheduled for 12-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at the county and Ely Public Works Facility, 2210 East Sheridan St. Residents of both St. Louis and Lake counties - symptomatic and asymptomatic - are welcomed to get tested. No insurance or identification is needed.

"We have seen an increase in cases of COVID-19 in Ely and surrounding communities, with devastating results, including several deaths in long term care facilities," Amy Westbrook, the public health division director at St. Louis County, said in a statement Tuesday. "Many of these cases appear to have been spread through community transmission, so we encourage everyone to be tested. People may be asymptomatic and not realize they have the virus and could unknowingly spread it to others."

COVID-19 tests are expected to be conducted in a drive-thru manner. “A health care worker will gently insert what looks like a Q-tip into a person's nostril, twirl the swab to get a good sample, then remove it and place it in a vial, which is then sent to a lab for testing,” according to county officials. “This test is considered less invasive than similar tests conducted elsewhere. Results are expected back in just a few days and will be communicated directly to the person who was tested.”

Those interested are encouraged to pre-register at primarybio.com/r/saintlouis. There also is a link to register at stlouiscountymn.gov/COVID19. People will be allowed to drive up without an appointment, but those who have not pre-registered 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. Free transportation is available for area residents in need by calling 218-741-7380.

To learn more, or to register, visit the MDH COVID Community Testing webpage: health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/testsites/index.html

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