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Heartland's COVID-19 Clinics Now Testing All Symptomatic Adults

The East Bluff COVID-19 test site set up in the old Kroger parking lot on Monday, April 20, 2020.
Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio
The East Bluff COVID-19 test site set up in the old Kroger parking lot on Monday, April 20, 2020.

Heartland Health Services is opening up testing to all adults displaying COVID-19 symptoms at its East Bluff site.

Previously, a number of criteria were in place. The broadened testing availability is aligned with updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson lauded the relaxed criteria.

"By expanding it and taking out those priority groups, but just saying anyone with symptoms is able to get tested, come and get tested," she said. "We're going to get a better understanding of the general population's level of this virus, because now this allows our testing to be expanded, and now more general public individuals will be able to get tested. So this is a really good thing."

All 150 tests available at the East Bluff site were gone by 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and 147 tests were used Tuesday when the site opened.

The first test results from nasal swabs gathered at the site are due back soon from Pekin's Reditus Laboratories.

Hendrickson said around 80 percent of day 1 tests are believed to be for Peoria County residents, though people from the Washington, Morton, and Pekin areas also came out to use the regional test collection services. About 50 percent were current Heartland patients.

Two additional Peoria testing sites will come online over the next week at the health department building on Sheridan and John Gwynn Park's Faucet Field.

Hendrickson said more tests are already on request for both the Heartland clinics and local hospitals.

Peoria County Board chairman Andrew Rand said there was clearly a pent-up demand. Patients on-site are assessed for symptoms to determine if a test is necessary.

"I think some day we'll be at the point where we won't have to ask or assign any limitations to the testing, but we're not there yet," he said.

Some qualifying symptoms include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, headaches, and chills. Hendrickson said it's not necessarily worth the time for an asymptomatic person to go for testing, because a "viral load" is necessary for accurate results. COVID-19 testing is point-in-time, meaning it can only determine if one currently has the virus, not if they've already had it.

Tests are free for patients, and a doctor's referral isn't needed. Insurance cards are accepted but not required. Patients must be able to self-administer the nasal swab test.

The Tri-County area of Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties has reported 84 positive COVID-19 tests to date.

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Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.