Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker announced Friday a partnership between Chicago and four local medical centers aimed at increasing accessibility to coronavirus COVID-19 testing within vulnerable communities.
Medical centers located near Chicago’s South and West Side communities will partner with Lurie Children’s Hospital to offer testing for at-risk individuals. The four participating medical centers will begin testing within the next several days, adding up 400 tests a day.
All tests collected at the four Chicagoland centers–Lawndale Christian Health Center, PCC Community Wellness Center, Chicago Family Health Center and Friend Family Health Center–will be sent to Lurie Children’s Medical Center for examination. Testing at these centers is reserved for patients who are underinsured, low-income or can not afford insurance.
The governor did not specify who qualifies to receive testing or how people can request testing, though he did emphasize the importance of test accessibility for residents of underserved communities. On Monday, public health officials announced that more than 70% of black Americans in Chicago who contracted the coronavirus died from the pandemic. As reported by WBEZ, 107 of Cook County’s 183 COVID-19 deaths were black residents.
Following a state order issued on Monday, medical staff are required to report the race and ethnicities of COVID-19 patients.
State officials underlined the risks imposed on the black community due to inadequate testing and resources needed to blunt the transmission of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are at increased risk of chronic health conditions like diabetes, liver disease and heart failure.
“Generations of systemic disadvantages in healthcare delivery and healthcare access in communities of color, and Black communities in particular, are now amplified in this crisis all across the state and across the nation,” said Gov. J.B Pritzker. “We are making sure that our plans reflect equity in access, testing and treatment and we are asking the same of healthcare providers across the state. It’s in moments of crisis that we owe each other even greater expressions of humanity.”
Pritzker said the state of Illinois worked on a crisis preparation plan to provide alternate housing in areas for people who test positive for COVID-19 without intensive care and people at risk of being diagnosed. Housing will also be provided to medical professionals and first responders assisting patients.
Pritzker’s plan hopes to provide families and Illinois residents living in confined spaces a place to quarantine without risk of endangering others. Alternate housing will be provided by 2,000 hotels across Illinois. Participating metropolitans include Springfield, Rockford, Metro East, the Quad Cities, Schaumburg, Mt. Vernon, Peoria, Carbondale, Quincy, Marion, Macomb, Champaign and other areas across Illinois.
To request a hotel room, please contact your local health department for access.