Rolling Meadows COVID-19 testing site ready for Friday opening
School has been out since March, but Rolling Meadows High School's parking lot is expected to become busy again beginning Friday with visitors seeking free COVID-19 testing in an effort headed by the Illinois National Guard.
The state's newest drive-through testing facility will be open daily from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., while supplies last. Anyone who believes they need a test can go to the school's main lot at 2901 Central Road in Rolling Meadows.
Illinois National Guard Brigadier Gen. Richard Neely said Thursday that the facility could accommodate up to 750 daily visitors. It'll be the 10th such facility run by the National Guard in the state, he said.
"What's kind of the challenge in this testing environment is, when you open one of these up, you really don't know what the turnout's going to be," Neely said. "And so, across the state, we've had different varying degrees of turnout."
Rolling Meadows Mayor Joe Gallo said the city didn't have a say in the COVID-19 testing site opening at the high school. He heard concerns from some residents after the operation was announced last week.
"Residents were concerned because they weren't given a voice necessarily in this matter,." he said. "There was a sense of shock when they first heard about it, whether or not this site should be erected at this particular location or that the influx of traffic might cause greater burden to those who live in the close proximity."
However, he said, the facility should be viewed from "a place of optimism and a place of security," adding that it will be crucial and convenient for many people.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is encouraged to seek the free testing. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
Officials said additional accommodations will be made for health care workers, first responders, employees of correctional facilities, individuals exposed to confirmed COVID-19 patients and those in jobs at critical places, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations and public utilities.
Neely said Rolling Meadows' large Latino population was among the reasons the city was selected. Hispanics account for about 24% of Rolling Meadows' roughly 23,500 residents, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.
Northwest Suburban High District 214 Superintendent David Schuler said the district was approached about having Rolling Meadows become the first high school in the state with a testing site.
"Our initial reaction when asked ... was 'absolutely,'" Schuler said. "Whatever we can do to help our community and help our community become safe quicker, we're all about as a school district and a school district community. And this is going to benefit our students, our parents, their friends and neighbors."
Officials said the free test does not require a doctor's referral, but visitors will be asked to show photo identification and, if applicable, health care employee or first responder identification.