The first official day of coronavirus testing began at the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora Thursday morning for anyone experiencing symptoms.
The new drive-thru facility, run by the Illinois National Guard with help from the Aurora Police Department, opened in a "soft launch" Wednesday as Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the addition of the west suburban location in a push to increase statewide testing.
Thursday marked the "official first morning" since the governor's announcement, according to a spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department.
The location will test anyone who may be experiencing coronavirus symptoms, defined as cough, shortness of breath or a fever, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. According to officials, a doctor’s note is not required to be tested.
“Greater testing capacity is needed so that healthcare workers, first responders and those who continue to be on the job can be tested before they unknowingly spread the virus,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “Testing is essential to identify those who are infected. More testing will help us end this pandemic sooner.”
The Aurora site is one of two new drive-thru testing centers opening this week in Illinois.
The University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford will open its facility Friday.
Both facilities will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week, or until supplies are exhausted, according to the press release.
Those wishing to be tested must be seated at a functioning window in their vehicles. Once in line, patients are not permitted to exit their vehicles. Patients will be asked to show photo identification.
In Aurora, Mayor Richard Irvin knows firsthand what it’s like to deal with coronavirus, having battled the disease himself earlier this year.
“For weeks I went on what I consider a horrific rollercoaster ride of health, or lack thereof,” he said. “I went to the edge and clawed my way back. I experienced things I never thought imaginable. Thankfully I recovered.”
Irvin agrees with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker that more testing is one of the keys to re-opening the state’s economy, and hopes to have 1,000 people a day tested in his community.
“I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. Testing is a key step,” he said.
The new facilities are part of the state’s project to increase testing capacity. Over the last 24 hours, more than 9,300 tests have been performed in the state, a new single-day high since the pandemic began.
“We’re working every day to expand testing in the state, and you’re starting to see some success,” Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said. “I want many more tests in the state, and you shouldn’t be surprised if that testing number continues to grow.”
Community-based testing facilities are also open in Bloomington, Harwood Heights and Markham.
For a full list of Illinois facilities performing COVID-19 tests, you can visit the NBC Chicago app.