DULUTH — About three hours into the first day of the free COVID-19 testing at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, nearly 300 people had been tested using the saliva tests.

While the line was long out the door after opening around noon Wednesday, Sept. 23, by 2:30 p.m. it had largely receded.

Shawn Baxley, the vice president of field operations for Vault Health, the company partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health to offer the testing, said the company expected the first day to be the busiest.

"We were prepared for a lot of people, a lot more than showed up," Baxley said. "We're putting in some crowd control stuff for tomorrow morning just to be sure."

Vault Health has held similar events around the country. This is the company's first site in Minnesota and the Health Department is planning for nine more around the state.

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Baxley credited the early long lines in part to people who had mistaken the saliva testing for a one-day event and to people arriving early to their appointments.

Vault Health has leased the space out through the rest of the year with options to renew in 2021. The site is open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are encouraged and can be made online. About 500 people had registered to receive testing Wednesday.

To register for saliva testing, visit mncovidtestingappt.as.me/schedule.php.