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Collins: Expanded COVID-19 testing on South and West Sides will save lives

collins 013120CHICAGO – In light of a move by Gov. JB Pritzker to expand COVID-19 testing and create alternate housing options specifically to address the effect of the pandemic in the black community and on people with disabilities, State Senator Jacqueline Collins urged a deeper inquiry into the cause of the much higher death rate among the black community.

“Expanding testing is an important first step, but we must continue fighting against the grim outcomes for the black community, which accounts for 70% of COVID-19-related deaths in Illinois,” Collins said. “The fact black Chicagoans and Illinoisans are dying at a rate so much higher than our share of the population is another sad result of the barriers put in place by a history of disinvestment and disenfranchisement. The governor has been forthright in acknowledging this inequity. I thank the governor and his administration for taking this step, but I urge them to follow through on it and find ways to save lives in the black community.”

Black Chicagoans make up 29% of the city’s population and had accounted for 70% of COVID-19-related deaths as of April 5, according to a report by WBEZ. Outcomes throughout Cook County have also fallen hardest on the black community, with 58% of COVID-19 deaths occurring among the black community, which makes up 23% of the population in the county, according to the same report.

The governor has announced Chicago will expand testing in communities of color, adding 400 tests per day, partnering with five medical institutions in order to do so.

Swabs will be collected at Lawndale Christian Health Center, PCC Community Wellness Center, Chicago Family Health Center and Friend Family Health Center, then sent to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago for testing. 

In the Metro East area, three locations of the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation system will add 470 swabs per day starting next week, to be processed at Anderson Hospital in Madison County.

A state-run South Suburban drive-thru testing center will also open early next week in the Markham-Harvey area.

As of April 9, the governor’s office reported the following demographic information on the race and ethnicity of those who have been tested:

Race/Ethnicity

Total People Tested

Percent of Total People Tested

Percent of Positive Tests among the Race/Ethnicity Category

White (Not Hispanic or Unknown Ethnicity)

20,906

24.36%

18.36%

Black or African American (Not Hispanic or Unknown Ethnicity)

11,413

13.30%

36.17%

Hispanic

3,566

4.16%

35.03%

The state has also taken steps to expand alternate housing, with an effort to prepare up to 2,000 hotel rooms across Illinois to serve as safe quarantine spaces. That effort has yielded rooms on standby, ready to be activated within the coming days next week in Springfield, Rockford, Metro East, the Quad Cities, Schaumburg, Mt. Vernon, Peoria, Carbondale, Quincy, Marion, Macomb, Champaign and the collar counties. The state is also supporting the City of Chicago and Cook County in their efforts to do the same.

These rooms could be made available to help those in cities, who more often live with roommates in smaller apartments, circumstances that make self-isolation more difficult. Such alternate housing rooms would be available to residents who tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospital-level care, or for asymptomatic high-risk individuals who need social distancing as a precautionary measure. Rooms will also be made available to medical professionals and first responders.

Residents should contact their local health departments to find out more about these measures.

Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins

Deputy Majority Caucus Chair
16th Senate District

Years served:
2003 - Present

Committee assignments: Financial Institutions (Chairperson); Insurance; Transportation; Subcommittee on Capital (TR).

Biography: Born in McComb, Miss.; grew up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Studied journalism at Northwestern University and graduated from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Divinity Schoool. Emmy Award-nominated news editor at CBS-TV in Chicago and 2001 Legislative Fellow with U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Recipient in 2011 of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Financial Literacy Leadership from the Illinois state treasurer.

Associated Representatives:
Mary E. Flowers
André Thapedi