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State to close COVID-19 testing, vaccination sites March 31

In response to what it said is a sharp drop in demand, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Friday, March 25, that it will discontinue COVID-19 testing services at the 10 community-based testing sites, including the one at South Suburban College in South Holland, effective March 31.

IDPH anticipated that operations would be winding down when the mask mandate was lifted and with the expected ending of federal funding. About 1.5 million tests were administered at the sites throughout their operation. The sites are currently handling less than one percent of the tests being conducted statewide.

The availability of free at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government, the statewide network of federally qualified health centers and the extensive number of SHIELD saliva testing sites throughout Illinois, mean residents still have convenient options for getting tested.

The state is still positioned to respond to a potential surge, with a stockpile of tests nearly fully replenished. There are more than 1.5 million rapid tests on hand, with a half a million more on the way in the coming weeks.

The state has also instructed hospitals, schools, and local health departments to consider their current testing capacity and take all preparations necessary. State officials are also in communication with pharmacies and healthcare providers about increasing their inventory of the various FDA-approved oral BA.2 treatments in case of another surge.

IDPH established the drive-thru community-based testing sites in April 2020 when there were far fewer options for residents to get tested.

Both testing and vaccinations have been offered at sites in Aurora, Arlington Heights, South Holland, Fairview Heights and Peoria. Only testing is offered at Bloomington, Champaign, Harwood Heights, Rockford and Waukegan.

Demand for tests at the sites reached a peak of more 1,040 tests per day at each site in November 2020.

The five sites that also provide vaccinations will close operations as well, having administered almost 8,800 doses. This is in addition to more than 243,000 vaccinations provide through almost 8,000 mobile vaccination clinics.

Over the last year, the state’s testing and vaccination infrastructure at pharmacies, health clinics and other locations has increased substantially, thus providing capacity to ramp up capabilities if it becomes necessary.

To order free at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government, go to https://www.covidtests.gov.

Additional information and COVID-19 data can be found at https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19.html.

Vaccination is the key to ending this pandemic. To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you, go to www.vaccines.gov.

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