Free COVID-19 testing event offered in Ely next week

The Minnesota Department of Health and St. Louis County Public Health are partnering to offer free COVID-19 tests in Ely. The one-day, drive-thru testing event will be held at the St. Louis County/Ely Public Works Facility, 2210 East Sheridan Street in Ely, on Tuesday, October 6, noon to 6 p.m.

Anyone who wants to be tested is encouraged to come, even if they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19. No insurance or identification is needed.

While the testing is being done in Ely, residents from all surrounding communities, including in Lake County, are welcome and encouraged to be tested.

For convenience, people are encouraged to pre-register. This will give them a specific time slot and minimize time waiting in line. People can register online 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 preregistered 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.

"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," said Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health Division Director. "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."

Tests will be conducted in a drive-thru manner, so people being tested never have to leave their vehicle. 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. 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.

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