Jan 4, 2022 - News

Popular Minnesota COVID-19 testing site switches to appointments only

msp test site line
A much shorter line this summer. Photo: Torey Van Oot/Axios

The free COVID-19 testing site at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is moving to appointments only amid surging demand, the Minnesota Health Department announced Monday.

The big picture: An increase in Minnesotans seeking tests due to the Omicron variant and holiday exposure has led to long lines at testing sites across the metro.

Driving the change: MDH said in a tweet that the move was made "at the request of airport staff to reduce crowding."

  • An agency spokesmanĀ told Torey that the change will remain in effect Tuesday, though more appointments are being added.
  • "We will reassess [Tuesday] about moving forward with walk-ins," he added.

Yes, but: Several other major community sites are still accepting walk-ins and appointments can be booked through pharmacies or private labs.

What they're saying: Gov. Tim Walz blamed ongoing supply chain issues when asked about frustration over access and wait times in back-to-back radio interviews Monday.

  • "I think the good news is that people are using it, they understand this test is important," he told MPR News' Cathy Wurzer. "The bad news is the supply chains are still straining nationally."

Of note: Some Minnesotans seeking at-home saliva tests via the state-run program encountered messages saying the free kits were out of stock.

  • A Vault Health spokesperson told Axios that the daily cap on test kits was lowered to 1,500 over the weekend because of reduced holiday shipping capacity.
  • It's now back to 6,000, which is higher than the daily average of 2,000 to 4,000 home tests ordered by Minnesota in recent weeks.
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