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How Do You Get Tested For Coronavirus? Here’s What You Need To Know

Testing is still limited throughout Illinois.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth microbiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus inside the extraction lab at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Governor Tom Wolf/Flickr
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CHICAGO — Testing for coronavirus is still limited throughout Illinois.

But it has become more widespread, with more than 110,000 tests performed throughout the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public health.

Here’s what you need to know:

Who should get tested for coronavirus?

Officials at first said not everyone needs to be tested for coronavirus, but state officials have now revised that and said anyone with symptoms can get tested without a doctor’s order.

Still, the Chicago Department of Public Health said people don’t need to be tested since most will only have a mild illness and there isn’t a specific treatment for coronavirus.

Testing is recommended for people with severe symptoms and people who are at high risk, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. That includes people who are 60 or older and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.

The department said tests should be saved for people who are first responders or health care workers; people who live in congregate settings, like shelters and nursing homes; people at risk, like those who are older or have underlying conditions; and those who are seriously ill.

Here’s the department’s flow chart for recommended testing:

How do you get tested?

Illinois officials now say you don’t need a doctor’s order to get tested. If you have symptoms, you can simply contact a testing facility to see if you can come in for a test.

Here’s a list of where you can get tested in Chicago.

The Chicago Department of Public Health has guidance for people who are uninsured but need to get tested.

Where can you get tested?

Here’s a list of where you can get tested in Chicago.

Chicago-area first responders can get tested at a special site in Dunning, but there’s been long waits there.

If your doctor has recommended you be tested for coronavirus, you can ask them if they can conduct the test or see if they can refer you to a testing facility.

Why is testing limited?

Illinois is still struggling to get the supplies needed for widespread testing of coronavirus. Federal officials slowed down testing throughout the country through missteps early in the coronavirus crisis.

Health care workers who administer the test also need to use personal protective equipment, and since that is in high demand and short supply throughout the world, officials want to save it by not using it with people who don’t need a test.

How long does testing take?

It should only take several minutes for a health care provider to get a sample from you to perform the test.

The processing will take longer: It can take one to two days to get your results if they are being processed by a state-run lab, but it can take as long as 12 days if your results are being processed at a commercial lab, Gov. JB Pritzker has said.

What about antibody testing?

Antibody tests use blood to determine if a person had coronavirus and recovered. It’s possible those people will be immune to COVID-19, officials have said, which means such testing will be “critical” to the state’s fight against the pandemic.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said only one type of antibody test for COVID-19 has been authorized by the FDA, and it’s not yet been “validated for diagnosis.” The agency warned tests you buy on the market “might not be reliable and test results must be interpreted with caution.”

Antibody testing is not yet being done in a widespread manner in Illinois. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said on April 8 the “bigger priority right now is obtaining the test that will actually detect the virus.”

Should my pet get tested?

Though some animals can get coronavirus, testing for pets is not recommended at this time, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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