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6 New Coronavirus Testing Sites Opening On South, West Sides

Most of the sites are located in neighborhoods with large Latino and Black populations, which are the communities that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 in Chicago.

The COVID-19 Testing Center at Innovative Express Care in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Monday, April 27, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city is opening six more coronavirus testing sites on the South and West sides.

Most of the sites are located in neighborhoods with large Latino and Black populations, which are the communities that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 in Chicago. Officials hope the sites will help them better track how coronavirus is moving through Chicago — and help reach the city reach its goal of 4,500 tests per day.

“We are making the decisions about where these sites are going” based on data and science from the Chicago Department of Public Health, Lightfoot said at a Monday press conference. “There’s a lot of actual testing on the South Side.

“But right now, we have this very significant surge in the Latinx community. We have to respond to that, and one of the ways we’re responding to that, among others, is to make sure we’ve got testing in these communities. And as more opportunities come online, we’ll look to expand the testing as far as we can depending on what the data shows us.”

Three sites will open this week:

  • Saucedo Elementary Academy, 2850 W. 24th Blvd. in Little Village
  • Prieto Academy, 2231 N. Central Ave. in Belmont Cragin
  • Guaranteed Rate Field, 333 W. 35th St. in Bridgeport (for first responders and health care workers)

Another three sites will open later this month:

  • Kennedy King College, 6301 S. Halsted St. in Englewood
  • Senka Park, 5656 S. St. Louis Ave. in Gage Park
  • Gately Park, 844 E. 103rd St. in Pullman

City officials chose the sites so they could better serve communities of color and because they are near public transportation, making it easy for people to get to, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Five of the sites will allow people to do walk-up tests, but Guaranteed Rate Field’s site will be a drive-thru facility and first responders and health care workers who go there will need a car.

The city has struggled with testing because supplies like nasal swabs have been in high demand throughout the world. But the six new sites will use a different kind of test where someone needs to simply cough and then put some of their saliva in a tube.

That means the sites will help Chicago do more testing without taking away much-needed supplies from already established testing sites, Arwady said.

The tests also require fewer health care workers, less use of personal protective equipment and pose less of a safety risk to health care workers than the nasal tests, Arwady said.

The sites should help Chicago reach the point of doing 10,000 tests per day by the end of the month, Lightfoot said. As of now, the city does about 3,000 per day.

CORE, a nonprofit led by actor Sean Penn, partnered with the city to help create the testing sites after Rev. Jesse Jackson asked Penn to help Chicago.

The city will be responsible for providing support to the sites, including people to control traffic and keep everyone safe, Lightfoot said.

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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