ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MN -- The state of Minnesota reported more than 3,500 new cases of COVID-19 Friday.
St. Louis County reported 182 cases.
Itasca County reported 48 cases.
Carlton County reported 18 new cases of the virus.
St. Louis County Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook said with school being back in session and the Delta variant still a concern, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise.
"From August to September we've seen cases rise, especially in the adolescent population as well as the college-age young adult population," Westbrook said.
The rise in COVID-19 cases is why the state of Minnesota and St. Louis County are expanding opportunities to get a COVID test.
Starting Monday, capacity at the DECC has doubled in size and can now serve around 1,000 people every day.
The testing site will be open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Westbrook said more people are wanting to get tested for the virus.
"There's a high demand for testing," she said. "One because we're seeing case rates, and two because we're also seeing work sites and locations put in requirements to test negative before coming back."
While rapid tests are in high demand, Westbrook said PCR tests, like the saliva one, are a good option to test for the virus.
"It does currently takes about a day or two for test results to come back, but that is a much more reliable test especially if you are not experiencing symptoms, we highly recommend seeking out the PCR, the saliva or nasal test," she said.
Community-based testing opportunities are being expanded so people do not stress the healthcare system.
"A lot of people are going in and seeking testing at the emergency department or urgent care, and we're really hoping that people will be redirected to go to community-based testing sites to free up some of the healthcare capacity."
Testing still remains a crucial part of combatting the pandemic.
"Testing continues to be an important strategy to understand transmission rates, who is getting infected, where people are getting infected, that sort of thing, so we have a better understanding of where the virus is moving," Westbrook said.
The county is not seeing a slowdown in cases, so the community-based testing sites will last as long as there is a need.
Testing sites are also opening up on the Iron Range.
Virginia and Eveleth will see testing three days a week.
Free saliva tests are now available at the following locations:
Mondays, 1-5, Eveleth Auditorium, 421 Jackson Street, Eveleth
Tuesdays, 8-noon, Iron Trail Motors Event Center, 919 6th Street South, Virginia (except Oct. 5. Testing has been moved to the AEOA parking lot, 702 South 3rd Avenue)
Fridays, noon-4, St. Louis County Government Services Center - Virginia, 201 South 3rd Avenue, Virginia