State Rep. Rob Ecklund did his part Thursday to help slow the spread of COVID-19

The state representative from International Falls took part in a mass testing event scheduled to run from noon to 6 p.m. through Saturday at Bob Walls Memorial Union Hall, 509 Third St., International Falls.

Ecklund was among the first wave of Koochiching County residents to submit their saliva for testing Thursday and said he was told officials were hopeful to test 1,500 people in the next three days. 

People who plan to take the test should, but are not required, to register at Vault Health. Tests will be processed in Minnesota at the saliva lab in Oakdale run by Vault Health and Infinity Biologix (IBX). Results will be provided via email in approximately 48-72 hours.

TJ Melcher, state emergency operations center regional community testing incident commander with the Minnesota Department of Health, said a common concern among people reluctant to get tested is the need to quarantine should results come back positive.

"They don't want to miss work or other things they have going on because they have to quarantine," he said. "It's almost as if they don't want to know... It makes it tough to contain (the virus)."

That can create problems, however, because many people could be carrying the virus and spreading it to others around them, he said. Testing provides power to stopping the spread. 

"The earlier people know they are positive, the less likely they are to spread it to others," Melcher said. "You can be contagious without having any symptoms."