Top Private Testing Lab: As Twin Cities Experiences Sustained Surge in COVID-19 Positives, Here’s How to Stay Safer During The Holidays
GS Labs: Rapid Tests Still Widely Available Across The Region; About 1 in 11 Twin Cities-Area Patients Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19
MINNEAPOLIS – As the 2021 holiday season reaches a peak, one of the state’s largest private testing laboratories is offering tips on how Twin Cities residents can stay safer as they celebrate.
GS Labs, a leading provider of COVID-19 rapid tests across the United States, last week provided about 22 percent of all the COVID-19 antigen tests performed in Minnesota. The lab performed rapid tests on about 13,500 Twin Cities residents with 1,187 people testing positive. That positivity rate of 9 percent represents about one out of every 11 patients testing positive, a rate that has been constant since the late October Halloween holiday.
“Right now, the Twin Cities has been in a sustained COVID-19 surge for nearly two months, with a positivity rate of between 9 and 11 percent each week on our rapid tests,” said Dr. Darin Jackson, GS Labs Medical Director. “That’s being driven by the Delta variant, which continues to dominate in Minnesota. If you go back to June and July, we were seeing positive rates in the 1 to 2 percent range. Then Delta hit Minnesota – and hit the state hard.”
Jackson noted that the state Department of Health has indicated the Omicron variant is present in Minnesota. Federal health officials indicated this week that Omicron now accounts for about three-quarters of infections across the U.S.
“That’s something the medical community will continue to monitor,” said Dr. Jackson. “We know Omicron is on people’s minds, because we have experienced a 30 percent increase in testing this week here in Minnesota.”
Despite the heightened need for testing over the holidays, GS Labs continues to have ample testing capacity at its seven testing sites in the Twin Cities area, including in Shakopee, Eagan, Minnetonka, Blaine, Bloomington, Woodbury and Maplewood. Each site is open for extended hours during the holidays and can handle at least 1,000 rapid tests each day. Results are typically available on the same day, usually within 20 minutes of the completion of the test.
For people with symptoms or who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19, testing is available at no cost to them if they have health insurance, because your insurer is obligated to pay GS Labs’ cash price under applicable law. For those without health insurance, GS Labs’ rapid test cost of $380 applies. Appointments must be made online prior to arrival.
If you are going to a holiday gathering in the Twin Cities area, there are steps you can take to be safer around others – including getting a rapid test 1 to 3 days beforehand to determine your COVID-19 status. Other safety measures include:
- Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
- Given the sustained surge in the region, we recommend that even fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor settings.
- Remember, outdoors is safer than indoors.
- Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
- Avoid shouting and singing, especially in indoor spaces.
- If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
- Also consider getting a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after you return home from your trip.
- Even if your test is negative, it’s wise to reduce non-essential activities for a full 7 days after travel.
“Holidays are incredibly important for families, and we understand that,” said Dr. Jackson. “No one wants to be a Scrooge. If you are going to celebrate in a group, understand that no amount of protection is absolutely perfect, but these steps can reduce the risk of getting infected and help you and your family celebrate the holidays more safely.”
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