COVID-19 still plagues Black suburban towns and cities outside Chicago

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Crusader Staff Report

The COVID-19 death toll and infection rate continues to rise in predominately Black municipalities and other towns outside Chicago, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The city of Waukegan which has a large Black population has the highest number of COVID-19 cases with 1,523. Some 2,882 residents have been tested for the virus.

In Chicago Heights, 2,325 have been tested and 529 have been infected with COVID-19. Some 1,460 residents in Calumet City have been tested for the virus and 330 have been infected with the deadly disease.

Meanwhile, more free testing sites have been opened to the public in the past week.

The latest Community Based Testing Site (CBTS) opened in Waukegan on Sunday, May 3. Similar to the five additional Community Based Testing Sites throughout the state, the Waukegan site will be open seven days a week to test individuals with COVID-19 symptoms and those who support critical services.

“By bringing COVID-19 testing into communities free of charge, we are to make testing more readily available and easier to access,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Testing is essential to identify the prevalence of virus circulating in our communities. Through widespread testing, we can make science-based decisions that will help us end this pandemic.”

All individuals with symptoms are encouraged to seek testing at these new sites. Additional accommodations have been made for the following – individuals with or without COVID-like symptoms.

  • Healthcare workers
  • First Responders
  • Employees of Correctional Facilities
  • Individuals exposed to confirmed COVID-19 patients
  • Employees that support Critical Infrastructure (grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations, public utilities, factories, childcare and sanitation)
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems, chronic medical conditions.

“Expanded testing for Lake County residents provides our Health Department with more information to help us get a better understanding of COVID-19’s impact on our communities,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. “Our dedicated Communicable Disease team is ready to complement the increase in tests with thorough contact tracing to identify and prevent additional cases in Lake County. Having a more complete picture of this crisis will improve our response and plans for recovery.”

“We know how important this test site is to our residents, and Lake County is proud to be a part of the collaboration between the National Guard, the State of Illinois and the City of Waukegan, to bring this much needed testing to our community” said Lake County Chair Sandy Hart.

“I want to thank the many federal, state and local partners for working together to provide COVID-19 testing for the residents of Waukegan and Lake County,” said Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham. “We are a community of essential workers and we urgently need everyone’s assistance in the fight against COVID-19. Waukegan thanks Governor Pritzker and Dr. Ezike for advocating for our health and well-being with this access to testing.”

Know Before You Go

Anyone who will be tested must be seated at a functioning window. Once you get in line at the CBTS, you will not be permitted to exit your car. For the safety of the testing personnel, the drive-thru sites will not be able to accommodate walk-up individuals. Individuals must arrive in a vehicle.

While this is a free service, residents must show photo identification, healthcare employee or first responder ID/badge, if applicable.

Due to the demand for this service, organizers anticipate higher than normal wait times associated with these drive-thru community-based testing sites.

Dozens of additional commercial testing sites are also available throughout the state further adding to the state’s testing capacity. For the most up-to-date list of these sites, visit https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/testing-sites. There residents can also find information on eligibility for testing and contact information for each testing site.

For additional information related to COVID-19, visit www.dph.illinois.gov You can also get your COVID-19 questions answered at any time of day by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also email you questions to DPH.Sick@Illinois.gov.

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