Pilsen clinic now offering COVID-19 testing

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez said Pilsen Family Health Center’s decision to start conducting tests will “help everyone in the community in these times when testing has become very difficult.”

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The UI Pilsen Family Health Center.

UIC

A health clinic in Pilsen operated by the University of Illinois at Chicago is now testing for the new coronavirus and treating patients with mild or moderate symptoms.

University of Illinois Health’s Pilsen Family Health Center, 1714 S. Ashland, has already started seeing patients who schedule an appointment and meet certain testing requirements put forth by public health officials, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, whose 25th Ward includes much of Pilsen, has been working with the health system to expand testing in Chicago, which he said is “critical” to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

“Fortunately, U. of I. has been a great partner from the beginning as we started seeing the failures of the federal government early with the number of testing kits, especially in vulnerable areas,” Sigcho-Lopez noted.

He said it’s “staggering” that 70% of coronavirus deaths in Chicago have befallen African Americans. On Monday, those grim statistics prompted Mayor Lori Lightfoot to declare a “public health alarm” as she vowed to address the disparity head-on.

Sigcho-Lopez said conducting tests at the clinic will “help everyone in the community in these times when testing has become very difficult.” In addition to representing areas with large numbers of undocumented immigrants without health coverage, Sigcho-Lopez’s ward also encompasses Chinatown — a community that has faced an economic downturn since the COVID-19 outbreak started in China.

Those seeking a test, including individuals experiencing mild or moderate symptoms, should call (866) 600-CARE to make an appointment or receive other guidance. Most people with mild illness are able to recover at home, according to the CDC.

Hospitalized patients and health care workers showing symptoms are given first priority for testing based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Other symptomatic patients — including first responders, patients over the age of 65, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying medical conditions — are prioritized next.

After that, testing priority is granted to all health care workers and first responders, critical infrastructure workers exhibiting symptoms, symptomatic patients who don’t meet the other criteria and individuals with mild symptoms who live in communities with a high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

As the number of coronavirus cases in Illinois continues to spike, testing is now becoming more widespread.

Last week, Roseland Community Hospital started offering drive-thru testing. And an existing drive-thru site manned by the Illinois National Guard on the Northwest Side expanded to adults showing signs of infection and anyone over 60 with underlying medical issues, regardless of symptoms.

However, Sigcho-Lopez said more still has to be done to ramp up testing and expand medical care amid the rising public health crisis.

“The next few weeks are going to be critical,” he said. “I urge every institution to open the doors — to collaborate shoulder-to-shoulder — to save lives.”

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