coronavirus

Chicago Launches 4 New Free Coronavirus Testing Sites as City Prepares for Phase 4

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The city of Chicago is launching four new free coronavirus testing sites starting Tuesday in a new pilot program, according to the mayor's office.

Two of the testing sites will be community-based while the other two will be focused on first responders, Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said in a statement.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot discusses the city's decision to move into Phase Four of the coronavirus reopening plan.

The first community-based site will begin operating Tuesday at Austin Health Center and the second will start operating later in the week at Kennedy King College, officials said. The testing sites for first responders will begin operating on the city's North and Southwest Sides Tuesday but will travel to areas "where they are most needed," Lightfoot's office said.

Lightfoot announced the new testing sites one day after revealing that Chicago would enter phase four of its reopening plan alongside the rest of Illinois on Friday, five days earlier than the city had anticipated based on its ability to meet various criteria.

One of the metrics city health officials used in order to make that determination was the city's capacity to conduct at least 4,500 COVID-19 tests per day.

Eligibility criteria to get tested was expanded last week, officials said, to include anyone who had a "recent high-risk exposure" like participating in the massive protests that have taken place across the city and around the world following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

COVID-19 testing is free to all Chicago residents, Lightfoot's office said, encouraging anyone who believes they may need to be tested to visit one of the sites.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady urged residents to remain cautious and heed safety guidelines as the city prepares to enter phase four sooner than expected.

Transitioning to phase four of reopening means additional businesses and public amenities will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity and certain restrictions. Those include indoor seating in bars and restaurants, museums and zoos, performance venues, summer camps and more. In this next phase, gatherings can also increase to up to 50 people inside and 100 people outside.

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