Coronavirus drive-through testing site in Bloomington moving to Peoria Civic Center


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Bloomington drive-through COVID-19 testing facility is heading to the River City.

Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew Rand said the facility, located at the McLean County Fairgrounds in Bloomington, is now moving to the Peoria Civic Center.

As a result, the mobile testing site at the McLean County fairgrounds will close on May 22. It was originally supposed to close down this Thursday, but the McLean County Health Department said the pushed back date will give the community and state time to continue working together to put in place additional local testing capacity.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the resources can be better used elsewhere.

“The drive thru’s in the rest of the state were getting 500-600 cars a day,” said Pritzker. “We want to make sure that most effective locations are chosen.”

He said the McLean County site is only averaging 26 people a day, but Sue Hughes of Peoria said that’s what could happen at the Peoria Civic Center because there are other testing sites in town.

“I’m not sure I understand why we need another one,” said Hughes. “I don’t know if it’s the easiest for driving, I think right now there are more questions about it.”

Hughes said she’s not against added testing, but if Peoria is going to add another site, she would like to see this one provide more efficient tests.

“Is it any better testing?” asked Hughes. “Are they going to do antibodies testing? or just yes, no testing. How long does it take? because you can get tested today and get it tomorrow.”

 However, resident Hannah Honeycutt says any form of added testing is beneficial because the more people that it reaches the better off we are.

“There’s more homeless people downtown, people that walk around and that kind of thing,” said Honeycutt. “I was literally just tested for COVID-19 at one of the other places, and I think it’s probably not getting enough traffic because people are working from home or they don’t need to be tested. I think the one in the civic center will probably get a lot of traffic.”

People in McLean County still have the option of getting tested at OSF PromptCare on Fort Jesse or Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington.

“We’re thankful that this resource will remain available for our county and surrounding counties,” said McLean County Health Administrator Jessica McKnight.

For now, the McLean County Emergency Management Agency is urging everyone in the are, who hasn’t used the mobile site, to get tested as soon as possible. The community-based testing site was a pilot project led by the federal government, through Heartland Health Services, and at the state level through the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The facility at the Peoria Civic Center will open May 23.

The IDPH provided the following statement:

The Community Based Testing Site in Bloomington provided a valuable service for 45 days in McLean County. Unfortunately, these valuable resources are being under-utilized, averaging 103 tests per day, with some days as low as 30, at a facility that is capable of administering 250 tests a day.  With the opening of additional COVID-19 testing services in the Bloomington-Normal area, a decision was made by the Illinois Department of Public Health, in conjunction with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, to petition the federal government to relocate these services.

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