COVID worker

A nurse prepares a COVID-19 test at a testing center. State agency employees will be required to show proof of vaccination or participate in regular testing before returning to the workplace.

The Minnesota Departments of Administration and Health announced Minnesota has contracted with 11 COVID-19 testing vendors to further expand the testing network of options available to state and local government and public entities, including public school districts.

Vendors were selected through an open, competitive request for proposal process. This is the standard contracting process the state follows for contracting needs.

Each vendor has entered into a contract agreement with the state, which pre-approves vendors for access by governmental entities in Minnesota, and streamlines the process to get testing services for settings like the state’s free community testing locations, schools, homeless shelters, prisons, or group homes.

“Testing continues to be an important tool for Minnesotans to quickly identify whether they or a family member have a COVID-19 infection, so they can isolate and slow the spread of the virus,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “We know the importance of testing as part of the COVID-19 response toolkit and we are committed to offering free, low-barrier testing options for Minnesotans. We anticipate the need for testing will continue into the future and we want to make sure we have the infrastructure we need to provide a robust network of testing options for Minnesotans.”

This contracting process is standard within state government and further solidifies the state’s strong, long-established infrastructure for testing service procurement.

“Each vendor was scored with objective metrics, following the same process and standards used for all state contracting before the pandemic,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Administration Alice Roberts-Davis. “We are proud to work with MDH to ensure a diverse testing network continues in the state, and thank all the vendors who applied.”

The request for proposal covered a variety of testing services, including: pop-up testing; testing in specific settings (e.g., schools, shelters, long-term care); testing at state-run community testing sites; at-home testing; bulk ordering of testing kits; lab processing for tests; and test reporting services.

The testing types available to public entities through this contract include rapid antigen testing, nasal PCR testing, and saliva PCR testing.

Vendor applicants had to meet minimum requirements and were evaluated for their ability to meet preferred capabilities.

The following vendors were selected:

  • Applied Memetics
  • Cian/Patriot Labs
  • COVID Medical Solutions of Illinois
  • Fulgent Diagnostics
  • Homeland Health Specialists
  • Kashi Clinical Laboratories
  • Maverick Health
  • OptumServe Health Services
  • Primary Diagnostics
  • Shield T3
  • Vault Health

Being a part of this testing vendor contract does not guarantee work for a vendor, but it does streamline the contracting process.

Master contracts of this type provide a variety of pre-approved options from which state agencies or other governmental entities can choose when procuring services. 

Cooperative Purchasing Venture (CPV) members, such as local governments, state agencies, or school districts, may use the contract.

Using the contract can reduce the burden on local entities by saving staff time and resources.

Existing contracts can continue until their expiration dates, so some programs may not see any changes. There may be additional free testing options available to certain sectors.

How to access testing vendors through the contract:

Local and state governmental and public entities can learn more and request testing support at: COVID-19 Testing Contract.

Finding a COVID-19 test

Getting tested for COVID-19 is free for all Minnesota residents.

Testing is open to anyone who believes they need a COVID-19 test, with or without insurance. State guidance on who should get tested can be found on the COVID-19 Testing webpage.

If you need special accommodations or have accessibility needs, contact the COVID-19 hotline: 1-833-431-2053.

How Minnesotans can get a COVID-19 test:

  • Order a free saliva test through the state’s no-cost at-home COVID-19 testing program.
  • Schedule an appointment for a free rapid or saliva test at one of the state’s no-cost community testing sites across Minnesota. Walk-ins are also welcome, but appointments are highly encouraged.
  • Find a testing option, including through local providers, pharmacies, and clinics near you, through the state’s Find Testing Locations map.

Finding a vaccine

How eligible Minnesotans can get their free shot:

  • Use the state’s Vaccine Locator Map to find a vaccine provider near you.
    Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Public Hotline
    1-833-431-2053
    Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Check for vaccine appointments using the CDC’s Vaccine Finder. You can search for appointments by vaccine type (e.g., Pfizer).
  • Contact your primary health care provider or a local pharmacy.

Written By

Reporter

Sophia Voight is a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette. She is from Oshkosh, WI and graduated from the UW Oshkosh with a bachelor's degree in Multimedia Journalism in 2021. She can be reached with any news tips at svoight@orourkemediagroup.com

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