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First Peoria COVID-19 Expanded Testing Site Opens Tuesday

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Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio
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State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) talks about the effort to bring three expanded COVID-19 testing sites to Peoria on Friday, April 17, 2020.

Peoria's first expanded COVID-19 testing site opens Tuesday at the Heartland Health Services East Bluff clinic. The 2321 N. Wisconsin Ave. clinic in the old Kroger plaza will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, said Heartland Health Services CEO Sharon Adams. The Heartland clinic at the health department building, 2116 N. Sheridan Rd., opens Saturday, April 25. It will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A third clinic at Faucet Field at John H. Gwynn Jr. Park, 809 W. John Gwynn Jr. Ave, opens April 27, according to Adams. Hours will be determined soon. Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said one doesn't have to live in the city of Peoria to take advantage of the testing.

"This is open for our region. I think that was a really key thing about bringing testing here regionally. While there is a community-based testing facility in Bloomington, to have one in this part of the state is also really important," she said.

Peoria NAACP president Marvin Hightower recently said the distance and lack of public transit options for Peorians to access the federally-funded Bloomington site was a significant obstacle for many.

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) and other members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus lobbied Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration to bring more testing to Peoria and other cities with large African American populations after seeing the disproportionate number of COVID-linked deaths among the black community statewide.

"I was confident that our community was able to respond to the healthcare need. But what we needed, was we needed more testing. Many of us know individuals that posed every characteristic of someone that had COVID. They just simply did not have the ability to get that test," Gordon-Booth said.

About 150 nasal swab tests per day are available for each of the three sites. Both drive-up and walk-up testing is available.

"This will be outside, and we will actually have signage and barricades set up," said Adams.

In the event of rain, tents will be set up for walk-up clients. Drive-up clients will remain in their vehicles. Workers from both Heartland Health Services and the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria will work on-site.

Dr. Gregg Stoner, chief medical officer for Heartland Health Services, said the state recommends tests for symptomatic patients, but there is some leeway.

"We can use some judgment on that. And particularly high-risk groups that may not have symptoms, or the symptoms are very minor, we may be able to test. But we won't be testing absolutely everybody that wants a test," Stoner said.

Collection criteria include high-risk people with COVID-like symptoms living in temporary shelters; people with exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient or consistent symptoms; people ages 60 and over with health conditions that put them at greater risk for COVID-19 linked complications, even if they've had no known exposure; and frontline employees like healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, bus drivers, and childcare workers who are symptomatic.

Stoner said Reditus Laboratories in Pekin will process test results within 24 hours. Those results will be delivered through a Heartland Health Services doctor or a private physician. Positive results will also be shared with the health department for contact tracing.

Testing is free for patients.

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