125 more die from COVID-19 since Wednesday, bringing death toll to nearly 1,100; Pritzker talks testing sites


CHICAGO (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker said 125 more people have died from COVID-19 since Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,073.

There was a 1,140-person increase in confirmed cases, bringing the statewide total to 25,733. A total of 122,589 people have been tested.

Pritzker announced new COVID-19 testing sites as well, expansion of testing guidelines, an elimination of supply chain problems as they relate to raw materials for testing, and efforts to procure and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We are utilizing our incredible statewide network of Federally Qualified Health Centers to launch new testing locations in communities across Illinois”, said Pritzker. “These new sites will feed specimens to our network of expanded laboratory capacity. We have sites coming online across Chicago, the Collar Counties, Peoria, and Southern Illinois with many more centers expressing interest and working to get their operations up and running.”

The state has partnered with Thermo Fisher to help improve testing capacities at the IDPH labs and across the state, and Thermo Fisher committed to prioritizing Illinois in its supply chain management. IDPH’s five machines are now up and running with reliable results. As Illinois ramps up testing over the next week the state estimates a new capacity of thousands of more tests per day at state labs alone.

The governor also announced that the state has eliminated supply chain problems as they relate to viral transport medium (VTM) and swabs.

University partners of Illinois Tech, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and the University of Illinois at Chicago and at Urbana-Champaign, as well as outside vendors, have committed to providing Illinois with an abundance of VTM and swabs that allows the state to stock state labs, as well as support additional labs throughout the state. Labs in need of supplemental VTM or swabs to boost their in-house testing capacities can send requests through their local Emergency Management Agencies.

The governor announced that the state will be expanding testing through its statewide network of Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Sites that will be coming online include TCA Health in Roseland and Chatham; Howard Brown locations in Chicago’s Englewood, Hyde Park, Austin and Little Village; Heartland Alliance Health in Chicago; Aunt Martha’s in Chicago Heights, Harvey, Joliet, Kankakee, Danville, and Chicago’s South Side; the Erie Family Health Centers in the Evanston-Skokie region, Humboldt Park, and Waukegan; Quorum Health in Waukegan; VNA Healthcare in Aurora, Carol Stream, Romeoville and Elgin; Heartland Health Services in Peoria; and Christopher Greater Area Rural Health, which will have 9-12 sites across Southern Illinois.

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