State closing down 10 COVID-19 testing sites as demand drops

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health is closing 10 COVID-19 testing sites on March 31 because of low demand.

    The Illinois Department of Public Health is closing 10 COVID-19 testing sites on March 31 because of low demand. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 3/25/2022 6:39 PM

The state will close its 10 COVID-19 community testing sites, including all suburban locations, on March 31 as demand plummets and at-home options expand, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday.

Traffic at the test sites has "dropped precipitously in recent weeks," officials said in a statement. "The sites are currently handling less than 1% of the tests being conducted statewide."

 

Another factor was the availability of free at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government, testing at federally qualified health centers and SHIELD saliva test sites. Officials also cited the anticipated end of federal funding for the testing centers.

Suburban test locations include Aurora, Arlington Heights, Harwood Heights and Waukegan. COVID-19 vaccinations offered at Aurora and Arlington Heights facilities also will end.

Statewide, new COVID-19 cases ticked up slightly this week with a daily average of 1,143 Sunday through Friday, a 6% increase compared to the 1,077 average last week. Those numbers are far below February's daily average of 3,937.5.

There were 1,309 new COVID-19 infections Friday and 14 more deaths from the respiratory disease, the IDPH reported. The seven-day average for deaths is 16.

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Hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain low with 470 patients reported as of Thursday night.

From Sunday to Thursday, average patient totals were 505 contrasted with last week's daily average of nearly 547, a 7.6% decrease.

Edward Hospital's Dr. Jonathan Pinsky said COVID-19 admissions are "very slow" compared to peaks this winter.

"What's different now is that with masks coming off, there's a lot more opportunities for people to be exposed," Pinsky said. The state lifted its indoor mask mandate Feb. 28.

With low transmissibility rates across Illinois, "the chances of getting exposed to COVID is significantly lower than it was a few months ago," said Pinsky, Edward's medical director of infection control and prevention.

But recently, "I had a few patients where they could connect it to an indoor gathering that they attended."

COVID-19 patients at the Naperville hospital are "predominantly unvaccinated, but we've had some who are elderly and they've been exposed either to children or at indoor gatherings," Pinsky explained.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that 50% of Illinoisans who are fully vaccinated have received a booster shot.

So far, 8,626,245 people -- over 68% of Illinois' 12.7 million population -- have been fully vaccinated. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson's.

On Thursday, 8,812 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 7,513.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 1.4% based on a seven-day average.

Total cases statewide stand at 3,061,224, and 33,307 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 90,542 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

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