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Coronavirus Testing In Chicago Gets A $14 Million Boost As Demand Skyrockets

For weeks, the city's mobile and static testing sites have been packed, with people waiting in line for hours and sometimes even being turned away because a facility didn't have enough tests.

Dozens of people line up to get tested for COVID-19 at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church before 10 a.m. Saturday morning in Gage Park.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city is giving $14 million to community health centers for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and expanding its own testing as it tries to keep up with rapidly growing demand for tests.

For weeks, the city’s mobile and static testing sites have been packed, with people waiting in line for hours and sometimes even being turned away because a facility didn’t have enough tests. Appointments for tests at community clinics have filled up fast, too. That’s made it challenging for many people to get tested.

At the same time, new cases and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has skyrocketed in Chicago. Deaths are beginning to rise, as well.

While the city is still encouraging everyone to first contact their doctor or primary care provider to get a test, officials are trying to ramp up the city’s testing supply to meet the surge in demand.

As part of that, the city is giving $14 million in grants and other resources to community clinics and health care partners so they can expand their testing and contact tracing, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, announced Wednesday. The money can be used for materials, supplies, equipment and technical assistance.

The city’s also distributed 40,000 antigen tests — often called “rapid tests” — to community health centers. Those tests can provide results within minutes.

The Chicago Department of Public Health will also open a fourth static testing site at Midway Airport next week. The site will be free and available to Chicagoans regardless of their insurance or citizenship status. Like the city’s other sites, people can make appointments, walk up or use a drive-thru.

The city’s busiest testing site at Prieto Math and Science Academy in Belmont Cragin will be moved next week, as well. Testing will instead be done at Prosser Career Academy, 2148 N. Long Ave.

The health department will continue to hold mobile testing events.

The city is making changes to ensure health care workers and people in need of a test aren’t impacted by chilly winter weather. Curative — a company which has worked with Chicago on testing since May — will provide vans, trailers and kiosks that will be used as part of that effort.

How To Get A Test

  1. The Chicago Department of Public Health first recommends people call their doctor or primary health care provider to see if they can provide a test or recommend a testing site.
  2. If that’s not an option, people can go to a federally qualified health center or community clinic for a test. There’s a map online of clinics in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Public Health also has an online map of testing sites and clinics.
  3. If people don’t have insurance or can’t get a test elsewhere, they can go to one of the city’s mobile or static sites.

Who Should Get A Test

The Chicago Department of Public Health recommends COVID-19 testing for these people:

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19, like fever or chills, cough, difficult breathing, sore throat, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
  • People who have been in contact with someone who is ill, especially if it’s someone they live with, a friend or a worker.
  • People who have recently participate in a high-risk activity, like attending a large gathering or being in a crowded place.

Chicago Testing Sites

Starting Monday, here is the information for the city’s testing sites:

  • Prosser Career Academy: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at 2148 N. Long Ave.
  • Midway Airport: noon-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays at Parking Lot B, 5738 W. 55th St.
  • Saucedo Scholastic Academy: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at 2850 W. 24th Blvd.
  • Gately Park: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 744 E. 103rd St.
  • Information about the city’s mobile sites is available online and is updated weekly.

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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