CHICAGO — State officials are working to open a new drive-thru coronavirus testing center in the South suburbs as coronavirus continues to hit the South Side hard.
The new testing center would provide results in one or two days instead of a 10-14 day wait, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. More details about the new site are expected to be announced by the end of week.
The new drive-thru testing center would join other South Side coronavirus screening and testing sites, including Roseland Community Hospital, a drive-thru site at 45 W 111th St. which is open to all.
Coronavirus testing is also being done by appointment at Alivio Medical Center, 2355 S. Western Ave. in Pilsen, the University of Illinois Health Clinic, 1714 S. Ashland Ave. in Pilsen, and at a drive-thru site at Advocate Christ Hospital Medical Center, 4440 W 95th St. in suburban Oak Lawn. University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park is testing patients referred by partners, too.
Ezike spokes about the new testing site on a Zoom call hosted by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Tuesday. Nearly 500 people joined the call as officials fight for Black Illinoisans to get equal access to treatment and resources.
More than 72 percent of coronavirus deaths in Chicago have been Black residents, the city announced Monday — but only 30 percent of Chicagoans are Black.
In nine South Side neighborhoods alone, 921 people have tested positive for coronavirus, according to zip code-level data released by the state. In Auburn Gresham, 216 people have tested positive; in Chatham, 188 people have tested positive; in South Shore, 132 people have tested positive; in Hyde Park and Woodlawn, 107 people have tested positive; in Bronzeville and Kenwood, 107 people have tested positive; in West Englewood, 96 people have tested positive, in Englewood, 75 people have tested positive.
The Center for Minority Health will also start robotexting communities later this week to spread awareness, Ezike said. They’re also looking for “credible messengers” who can join state officials at press conferences to ensure that Black communities are hearing from people they know and trust.
State Rep. Sonya Harper (D-IL) moderated the two-hour call, promising that the meeting would be “the first of many.” She was joined by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly; Ald. Sophia King (4th); Dr. Kiran Joshi, Cook County Department of Public Health senior medical officer; Candace Moore, Chicago’s chief equity officer; Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi; and Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association, among others.
“This crisis is similar to Katrina, where it has shown and brought to bear systemic disparity in health care, access to resources and who is deemed essential,” King said. “Elected officials must understand where the disparity is and attack it disproportionately with resources.”
Kelly said she is working on a bill that will get more money out to people and businesses hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown.
Emergency SNAP benefits are now available to those in need, and those already receiving benefits can expect their monthly allotments to be increased to the maximum amount starting Wednesday.
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