COVID-19 tests now available to everyone as state surpasses 1 million completed

  • Members of the Illinois National Guard work with the public at the state's new drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at Rolling Meadows High School recently.

      Members of the Illinois National Guard work with the public at the state's new drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at Rolling Meadows High School recently. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, May 22, 2020

 
 
Updated 6/5/2020 6:14 PM

Illinois has the capacity to test many more people for coronavirus than are showing up each day, and state officials reiterated everyone can ­-- and should -- be tested even if free of symptoms.

That particularly applies to those who've been in close contact with others at demonstrations, who should get tested five to seven days after the contact occurred and self-isolate until then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Health officials say widespread testing, and notifying people in close contact with anyone who tests positive, is the best way at this point to prevent COVID-19 cases. It also is a key metric in deciding when to allow further loosening of restrictions on stores, restaurants and other businesses.

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While COVID-19 can be deadly, it can also cause no symptoms or mild illness, leaving people who don't know they're infected to spread the virus to others.

Fifty-nine more people have died in a 24-hour period, state health officials reported Friday, and 1,156 more people tested positive.

That brings the state's death toll from the disease to 5,795, with 125,915 infected since the outbreak began.

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With 18,903 test results released Friday, the state has now administered 1,000,919 COVID-19 tests, according to Illinois Department of Public Health officials.

The tests can determine if a person is currently infected with the virus. It does not indicate if you've been infected in the past. Those types of serology tests are available through various labs for a fee. But researchers warn the results might not be accurate and there's no evidence that someone who has been infected with COVID-19 can't catch it again.

There are 11 state-run testing sites, including ones in Rolling Meadows, Aurora and Waukegan. All are free and suburban facilities are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Tests are first-come, first-served, but most sites have been operating below their daily capacity over the past two weeks, according to IDPH.

"The state-operated Community-Based Testing Sites currently have the capacity to test more than 6,000 people per day, and now there will be no restrictions to who can be tested for this potentially deadly virus," Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Only the testing site in Harwood Heights has reached its daily testing threshold in the past two weeks, but it hasn't done so since late last month, according to IDPH records.

Most of the state-run sites were shut down Monday and Tuesday as Illinois National Guard troops were redeployed to help with crowd control for protesters demonstrating after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis more than a week ago.

Most sites were back in operation by Wednesday.

The testing site at the Aurora Premium Outlet Mall off Interstate 88 and Farnsworth Avenue has the capacity to test 750 people daily, but it's averaging 428 tests daily. More than 400 people a day were getting tested last week, but fewer than 300 were tested Wednesday and Thursday, state records show.

At the Rolling Meadows High School testing site at 2901 Central Road, less than half the tests available each day are being administered, on average, according to IDPH records.

Officials have moved at least two sites in the past week in an attempt to spur greater turnout.

The Waukegan site moved Wednesday and tallied 526 tests Thursday at its new location at 102 W. Water St. It was averaging 450 tests at the old location, but has the capacity to test 750 each day.

The state's rolling seven-day average infection rate is currently 5.7%. In the Northeast region that contains Chicago and the suburbs, that rate is 11%, according to IDPH.

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