Bismarck/Fargo hosts first free mass rapid COVID-19 testing sites in the state

Published: Dec. 19, 2020 at 5:45 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Department of Health said it wants to identify more asymptomatic people. This comes as tens of millions of Americans are expected to travel for Christmas.

Florence Kiemele and her son are learning how to take their first COVID-19 test.

“Now go round and round [your nose], very good,” said a member of the North Dakota National Guard.

Bismarck and Fargo are the first two cities in the state to offer a free mass rapid antigen test for COVID-19 using BinaxNOW.

“Keeping that [swab] flat, put it through the smaller hole,” said another member of the North Dakota National Guard.

With Christmas less than a week away Florence will know if she’s okay to travel in 15 to 20 minutes.

“If we are positive, I don’t want company,” said Kiemele.

Others are preparing for visitors.

“Normally we have a large gathering,” said Bismarck resident, Terry Hoerer.

Terry Hoerer typically has 40 people over for Christmas. He said he still plans to get tested even though only his children and grandchildren are coming.

Terry: “Hopefully it’ll help alleviate some of the fear of the COVID,”

These tests will save people time and will save the state money.

A regular COVID test can cost 50 to 150 dollars depending on where the test is given. The BinaxNOW COVID-19 test only costs 5 dollars according to the company website.

“It decreases needing to transport samples, time that has to wait the PCR to be run at the lab,” 81st civil support team commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Flanagan.

The North Dakota National Guard say rapid tests do not replace wearing masks.

“All of the recommendations still remain in place and this is just to again identify those individual cases that may have been missed,” said Lt. Col. Flanagan.

Lt. Col. Flanagan said these testing sites are not for people who feel sick but instead should go to their doctor.

The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services said the state has 500,000 rapid antigen test kits.

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