As Bloomington-Normal residents scratch their heads about why their local drive-through COVID-19 testing site is closing this week, Gov. JB Pritzker has offered inaccurate and incomplete information about why the state is doing it.
The testing site will close Thursday and be relocated to Peoria. State officials say it’s because the site was underused. That’s true.
Here was Pritzker’s explanation during his Tuesday media briefing:
“There are multiple locations in Bloomington. … It’s important to note there are multiple locations that are available to people in Bloomington. It’s one of the reasons that there were only about 26 people a day going to the drive-through. These drive-throughs in the rest of the state are getting 500 to 600 cars a day. We want to make sure that the most effective locations are chosen. And make sure people have the ability to get tested, since Bloomington does have a number of locations already available, we want to make sure we find other drive-through settings that will allow us to capture more and more tests.”
Pritzker’s claim that the Bloomington site is only testing 26 people per day is inaccurate. The real average is 108. (The lowest daily total was 30 people, on Easter Sunday.)
Since the state and federal government loosened testing criteria April 29 to allow more asymptomatic people, the average jumped to 134 per day.
The site’s daily capacity is 250, which it hit Tuesday. It would not have the ability to test “500 to 600 cars a day.”
Pritzker also claims there are “multiple locations” in Bloomington where people can be tested, other than the drive-through site. That is misleading. The statement misses some big caveats. There’s nowhere else you can just show up and be tested.
The only other two testing sites listed on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website are Chestnut Health Systems' Family Health Center on West Chestnut Street in Bloomington, and OSF PromptCare on Fort Jesse Road in Normal.
Chestnut's testing is only available to existing patients, with symptoms, and only by appointment on Monday and Friday afternoons. That site has tested about six people since starting May 4, said Chestnut spokesperson Lori Laughlin. When asked whether that could expand, Laughlin said she may have more information to share later in the week.
Any testing done at OSF PromptCare on Fort Jesse would require an appointment and a referral, typically after contacting the COVID-19 Digital Response Center at (833) OSF-KNOW, an OSF HealthCare spokesperson said Tuesday. At the OSF St. Joseph Medical Center emergency department, testing is provided for:
- Patients specifically recommended for testing after being evaluated by medical professionals
- Hospitalized patients with unexplained respiratory problems
- People at higher risk of complications for whom a rapid diagnosis would benefit their treatment
The drive-up site did not have such limitations.
Advocate Aurora Health, which operates Advocate BroMenn hospital in Normal, says it has expanded testing to emergency and urgent procedures including laboring mothers. As Advocate resumes elective surgeries, it will pre-schedule testing for those individuals. (OSF is also testing patients before procedures, as required.)
“We do not have capacity for open community testing at this time,” said Advocate spokesperson Lynn Hutley. “Testing continues to be a fluid situation and we will evaluate and adjust our policies and procedures as needed.”
Advocate and OSF's daily testing total was not immediately available.
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