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Illinoisans Should Start Testing Regularly For Coronavirus, Even Without Symptoms, State’s Top Doctor Says

"This amount of disease in our community, it's hard to think you could go anywhere and not be exposed," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

COVID-19 testing in Chicago.
Chicago Mayor's Office
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CHICAGO — The state’s top doctor said people should start getting tested regularly for coronavirus, even if they don’t have symptoms, because there’s been so much spread in Illinois.

All of Illinois is firmly in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, with new cases growing exponentially, daily deaths doubling and hospitalizations more than doubling in the past month, officials said Wednesday. The same day, the state reported 55 deaths — including that of a 30-year-old woman in Cook County — and 7,538 newly confirmed cases.

“We are fully into the second wave or second surge, and the cases are increasing exponentially,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health. At another pointed, she said, “This amount of disease in our community, it’s hard to think you could go anywhere and not be exposed.”

With so much spread of COVID-19, people need to start getting tested regularly, Ezike said.

RELATED: Poll Workers Should Get Tested For Coronavirus, Public Health Boss Says As Illinois Reports Widespread Outbreak

That holds true even if you haven’t had symptoms, Ezike said, since you could have and spread coronavirus while being asymptotic.

“You can’t know if you have COVID or not, so we really need to move away from waiting ’til you have symptoms” to get tested, Ezike said. “We cannot wait for symptoms. We need to be testing on a regular basis.”

People who think they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days and wait to get a test until at least seven days after the possible exposure, Ezike said. Even if the test comes back negative, people should continue to quarantine the full 14 days.

People should also be cautious and aware they can get a false negative, which means those who think they were exposed to COVID-19 should wear their masks and be as careful as possible, Ezike said.

The doctor particularly urged people who have been in high-risk settings — like poll workers — to get tested.

To find a testing location near you, click here or here.

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