Free Coronavirus Testing Site Opens at Hospital on Chicago's West Side

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The first no-cost coronavirus testing site on Chicago's West Side opens Monday, allowing anyone to be tested for free, regardless of symptoms.

The testing site is at Loretto Hospital, located at 645 S. Central Ave. in the city's Austin neighborhood. It will offer both walk-up and drive-through testing for free, officials say.

It is open to the public, for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who believes they may have been recently directly exposed to someone with the coronavirus. All healthcare workers and first responders can also get tested at Loretto Hospital, with or without symptoms.

"By becoming a testing site, we will be able to better partner with the community that we love and respect to bring answers and certainty into people’s lives," Dr. Mira Illiescu-Levine, the hospital's chief medical officer, said in a statement. "Regardless if you have symptoms or you were exposed to a COVID positive patient, we will help you get answers and have a plan of care going forward."

Tests will be administered at Loretto Hospital from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The hospital asked that anyone looking to get tested enter the site on Harrison Street and follow all signage, maintaining six feet of social distancing at all times.

The tests will be nasal swabs administered by hospital personnel, as well as a short questionnaire to obtain any symptoms and contact information. Patients will be notified of their results by telephone within 72 hours, the hospital says.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker gives his daily coronavirus press briefing after 2,126 new cases of the virus reported in the state.

State lawmakers were scheduled to be at the hospital Monday for an official opening announcement. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the state hit a record high in coronavirus testing, reaching more than 16,000 people in one day - though he continued to push for more.

At his daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday afternoon, Pritzker announced that 13,335 tests had been conducted in Illinois in the previous 24 hours - the third consecutive day in which the state had tested more than 10,000 people. Health officials announced 2,126 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 43,903 since the pandemic began. The state also reported 59 additional deaths as a result of the virus, bringing the death toll to 1,933.

While Loretto will be the first free testing site on the city's West Side, there are more 100 locations across Illinois where patients can go to get tested at no cost.

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