Mobile sites will bring testing to areas most in need; Illinois National Guard to transition state-run testing sites to contract workers
CHICAGO – During a visit to a mobile testing site at Coles Elementary School, Governor JB Pritzker announced the expansion of the state’s mobile testing operation with twelve COVID-19 mobile testing teams operating throughout Illinois. These twelve teams will offer mobile testing to residents in hard-hit communities and visit facilities like homeless services centers and nursing homes. The mobile testing sites offer drive-through and walk-up tests free of charge to any Illinois resident who wants to be tested. In addition to the site operating at Coles Elementary, the remaining testing sites are located in Rock Island, Cicero, Brighton Park, Springfield, and East St. Louis.
“We now have 12 mobile teams that can be moved anywhere on any given day to mitigate and suppress emerging outbreaks, including places like meatpacking plants, nursing homes, migrant worker housing and other communities less able to access traditional testing clinics. That puts us on the cutting edge nationally in flexible testing to meet the demands of a more open economy – and I’m thrilled that Illinois is leading the way,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “And to be clear, these mobile teams are in addition to our 11 free, state-run drive through and walk up testing sites across the state. Illinois has built one of the largest testing programs in the nation, and that’s partly the reason we have made so much progress fighting COVID-19 statewide. Performing nearly 30,000 tests per day allows us to monitor the progress of our mitigation strategies, target our testing toward vulnerable populations, and reduce the spread of this virus.”
“Conditions here in Illinois have improved, but I urge everyone to remain vigilant,” said Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are seeing an increase in new cases in younger populations as more social gatherings and group events occur. We know that some individuals with COVID-19 have no or very mild symptoms. Because of that, it is important to test those who may have had a higher risk of exposure, such as being in a larger group or not being able to social distance from people. Please wait at least 1 week after the exposure to get tested, if symptoms have not developed. Please continue to follow all safety guidelines Wash your hands. Wear a face covering. Watch your distance. And take advantage of the expanded access to testing to make sure you are keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe.”
Governor Pritzker also announced more than 500 Illinois National Guard (ILNG) members will conclude their missions at the eleven state-run testing sites this month, with contract staffers supporting those sites going forward. The ILNG has operated the community-based testing sites since March 23rd and has administered over 200,000 tests in that time. Approximately 100 Guard members will remain on duty through the end of July to assist with the transition and other COVID-19 related missions. After turn-over of the testing sites, ILNG service members will be quarantined for two weeks in accordance with recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
“The hard work and dedication of our troops during this historic mission makes me proud to be a member of the Illinois National Guard and to lead this world-class organization,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. “While we were responding to this unprecedented pandemic, we also helped protect the state's citizens from flooding, had about 925 troops on duty supporting our law enforcement professionals and our citizens' right to peaceably protest and had more than 1,000 troops overseas protecting our nation. I couldn't be more proud to wear this uniform and to command the 13,000 members of the Illinois National Guard.”
Testing has played a critical role in allowing for the safe reopening of the Illinois economy. The administration’s continued investment in widely accessible testing will allow communities across the state to stay on track with the requirements of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan while reducing the risk of new outbreaks. To find a testing location near you, visit https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/testing-sites.