The line of cars extended more than a block away from Loretto Hospital Monday morning, each vehicle filled with a different story of those awaiting the first COVID-19 tests at the hospital in Chicago's Austin neighborhood.
"Before anything else can happen, you need to know who has it, where they are, how to trace them," said President and CEO of Loretto Hospital George Miller. "We’ve got to do testing and tracing to really eradicate this pandemic.”
The hospital, which was given 500 coronavirus tests by the state of Illinois, is in a hot spot area for the virus, according to Miller.
“It works great, " said Dr. Nikhila Juvvadi, chief clinical officer for the hospital. "We get the test results back and we can tell them what’s going on and if they have the disease, whether family members do, whether they can go back to work and be essential workers, whether they can take care of their babies, grandfathers without worrying about what they have.”
It takes less than 72 hours to get the test results back, staff said.
“They’re standing in line to get tested because they love their mother, they love their grandmother, they love their children," said Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford.
“We’re going to encourage all of the residents, all of the people in the area," added Congressman Danny Davis. "Don’t take a chance, come and be tested so that you can know what your status is.”
The hospital is working to get more tests from the state to meet the demand they saw outside on Monday.
Drive-through and walk-up testing is available to anyone for free. While the hospital still has tests, it will continue this Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary.