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Minnesota opens first test-to-treat COVID site in Brooklyn Park

High-risk patients who test positive for COVID at one of three sites in Brooklyn Park, Moorhead and Duluth could get a prescription for the antiviral drug Paxlovid.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — Starting Friday, June 10, the community COVID testing site in Brooklyn Park will become a test-to-treat site, meaning that Minnesotans can walk in, and if they test positive – and are deemed eligible – can walk out of the facility with a prescription for the antiviral drug Paxlovid.

"This is actually our state's busiest site during the pandemic for testing," Governor Tim Walz said on Thursday.

Minnesota is one of just four states hosting these types of sites. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York are the other three states.

"You'll receive a rapid test, you'll go back to your car and wait for 15 minutes, should you receive a positive test, you will come in through the other door, and be met by providers who are here to be able to counsel you and decide if it is the right thing for you to be prescribed Paxlovid," Walz added. 

Walz said they're currently working with the board of pharmacy to have Paxlovid dispensed from the location in the future.

Until then, eligible folks will be given prescriptions that can be sent to the Cub Foods or Target across the street from the site, or to their preferred pharmacy.

"From the time you walk through the door to the test, your results, consultation, getting over to the Target or the Cub Foods could be less than an hour," he said.

Paxlovid is a twice-a-day regimen that lasts five days. It's a mix of two drugs, Ritonavir and Nirmatrelvir. It's currently approved by the FDA under the Emergency Use Authorization and only certain people are eligible for the prescription.

Many medically vulnerable people, or people who have been deemed as high-risk are eligible, as long as they are not taking drugs that a doctor might deem in conflict with Paxlovid.

Walz said he is aware other pharmacies and primary care physicians have test-to-treat capabilities. However, he emphasized the accessibility of a free community site. Increasing accessibility will also shorten the time between a positive test and treatment, as experts have said Paxlovid works best when taken within five days of symptom onset.

"Personal anecdotes I've heard from individuals that I know who have taken it indicate that they feel better in 24 hours," VAULT Health Clinical Operations Manager Kandace Graunke said. "It's pretty amazing."

"This is a spot especially for Minnesotans who don't have the time, who don't have a family physician who can't get in, these are folks who are professional to do this," Walz said.

More test-to-treat sites are coming next week. Walz said we can expect to see them in Duluth starting June 14 and Moorhead on June 13.

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