Chicago setting up mobile COVID-19 testing sites for first responders
The sites will be set up in neighborhoods where many first responders live as well as in hard-hit African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods
CHICAGO — In an effort to get COVID-19 tests to people who need them, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday announced mobile testing for residents in hard-hit African American neighborhoods on the South and West sides, and for first responders on the Northwest and Southwest sides where many police officers and firefighters live.
Mobile testing for residents will operate out of Kennedy-King College in Englewood and the Austin Health Center in the South Austin neighborhood. While prior spikes in cases in predominantly Black and Hispanic ZIP codes are less pronounced now than they were a few weeks ago, city officials this week said infection rates in those neighborhoods are still higher than they would like.
The mobile sites will be able to test up to 500 people per day, and the city will work with local community organizations to set up events in neighborhoods for residents to get swabbed for the virus.
Meanwhile, with police, firefighters and paramedics at risk to catch the disease because of their daily interactions with the public, the city will run mobile sites for them around neighborhoods where many of them live, the city announced.
If these four sites prove successful, the city will set up more mobile testing, Lightfoot said.
The city runs five other stationary testing sites. Tests are free, and officials are urging anyone with symptoms, who has come in contact with someone who has the coronavirus or who has recently been part of a big crowd to get the test.
The city is planning to further reopen its economy this Friday, along with the rest of the state. With more Chicagoans and visitors rubbing elbows in businesses and on public transit, the city wants to keep testing at least 4,500 people per day to monitor for a resurgence of cases.
“I am very pleased Chicago is taking this latest, critical step in expanding our city’s testing capabilities with the launch of our mobile pilot program,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “As we continue to safely reopen our city while still preventing further spread of COVID-19, these additional sites will play a vital role in not only allowing us to continue to increase the number of residents being tested, but to do so equitably in order to support our communities most in need.”
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