Illinois Increases COVID-19 Testing Availability

May 9, 2020
Originally published on May 9, 2020 12:49 am

Illinois has processed more than 20,000 COVID-19 tests in one day for the first time since the pandemic began. The state ranks fourth among all fifty states in testing availability and completion, behind California, Texas, and New York. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said getting a more detailed picture of exactly who has COVID-19 is key for a safe reopening.

“Testing is fundamental to our ability to reopen the economy while controlling the spread of the virus,” Pritzker said. “That's what it takes to keep the public safe.”

Illinois has 244 public testing sites, and seven state run drive-through sites. Pritzker said the state will open three additional drive throughs in the coming days.

Reditus Laboratories, meanwhile, is one of the many medical facilities trying to help Illinois ramp up testing capacity. According to its website, the lab is a “full-service dermatopathology laboratory that provides physicians with accurate anatomical and clinical pathology services, and microbiology testing.”

Dr. Aaron Rossi, who owns the Pekin-based lab, joined Governor J.B. Pritzker during a press briefing today. He says since the pandemic began, Reditus has hired 75 additional employees to assist with COVID-19 testing and the production of face shields and swabs.

“Our goal is to continue to continue to support the governor to reopen the state by providing access to testing...to get life back to what we remember before by opening the state as quickly as possible,” Rossi said.

So far, the lab is producing 4,000 tests per day. Reditus is also providing tests for several state drive-through locations such as those in Peoria. The laboratory also set up a drive through site to test employees at the Smithfield Foods slaughterhouse in Monmouth, IL so the meat plant can reopen safely. The plant was shut down after a small portion of employees tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.

Public health workers said they are currently waiting on more testing materials from the federal government that are scheduled to arrive by the end of the month. More items like reagent will allow Illinois to process a greater number of tests as they arrive at labs.

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