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State opens new testing center amid East Range COVID-19 outbreak

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AURORA, MN-- A recent spike in COVID-19 cases on the East Range has the Minnesota Department of Health now providing a new testing option at the Aurora Community Center.

Jim Grizzard is one of many East Range residents who took advantage of the center Monday.

"My daughter just had a baby and I want to make sure that I'm safe," said Grizzard.

The state and other community groups decided to open the center as they monitor different communities in Northern Saint Louis County for increased cases.

Aurora Mayor Doug Gregor said several local businesses had to close due to the outbreak.

"We had been coping very well with the pandemic throughout I think the whole year," said Gregor. "But recently we were made aware there's a higher than acceptable positivity rate of testing up here."

Local health leaders added school sports and social gatherings without the right safety precautions are likely to blame.

But it's also something they expected as vaccines continue to roll out.

"This is going to be a typical part of the recovery that you're seeing as little outbreaks occur," said Jason Metsa, Incident Commander for the Department of Health.

They added that having pop-up sites in these smaller impacted communities gives everyone easy access to get tested and stop the spread.

"As opposed to traveling across our wonderful Range this is something that should be able to be accomplished within most people's schedules," said Gregor.

Grizzard adds, "I thought this was a great opportunity and it's only a couple of blocks from my house."

The center was put together in less than a week with the help of community partners like the East Range Joint Powers Board, and Saint Louis County's Department of Public Health.

People of all ages are welcome to get tested at the center.

Walk-ins are welcome or you can schedule an appointment by clicking here.

The pop-up clinic is open this Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 6pm.

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Emma Quinn

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