Winona will be the home for a new COVID-19 testing site for as far as can be seen during the future of the pandemic.

Starting Wednesday at the Winona Mall, saliva-based diagnostic tests will be available to all Minnesotans for free.

"The Winona Mall can serve as a regional hub for Minnesotans in the southeast corner of our state. This site offers access to those who live and work in Winona County, as well as the thousands of college students who live here. We know this site will increase access to testing among people who need it," said Dan Huff, Minnesota Department of Health assistant commissioner for health protection, in a MDH press release.

The residents do not need to have symptoms to be testing.

Additionally, possible exposure to a positive individual is not required.

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The testing site is only the second of its type in Minnesota, with it being the only one so far in southern Minnesota.

"We can't let down our guard in our battle against COVID-19," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a MDH press release.

"One of biggest areas of concern right now is the growing community spread and increase in cases throughout Greater Minnesota. As the weather moves gatherings indoors, the risk of transmission increases. Saliva testing offers Minnesotans another option for seeking out testing when they need it. Increased access to testing and identifying positive cases as early as possible is a critical way to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to keep schools and the economy as open as possible," Malcolm said.

Winona's testing site will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Winona mayor Mark Peterson said in the release announcing the new site, "We're pleased the state has chosen Winona for one of its first regional testing sites. This site will give residents the ability to take an easy test and get quick results, whether they or their family have symptoms, or they believe they were exposed to someone who is sick. Testing is one way we keep our family and friends safe."

A testing site like the one opening in Winona was opened in Duluth on Sept. 23. Since then, over 7,000 people have been tested there, according to MDH.

For more information about the new site, including how to make an appointment, visit the Minnesota Department of Health's website.

Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are strongly recommended.

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