You can’t do drive-through COVID-19 testing without a car. So what are your options?
As the number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 continues to grow in Chicago and across the state, ramping up testing capacity is critical for understanding the scope of the crisis and assessing appropriate measures. Governor J.B. Pritzker’s five-part plan to reopen Illinois, announced Tuesday, includes positive test rates dropping below 20 percent for a region to progress to the next phase. And the bigger the testing data pool, the more meaningful that metric is. That means, as multiple public health experts put it in John Oliver’s most recent segment: “testing, testing, testing.”
Illinois authorities have been rapidly adding testing sites across the city of Chicago and the rest of the state. Drive-up and curbside testing is available at many locations, allowing people to avoid entering buildings and remain in their vehicles while the test is conducted.
But where does that leave those of us who don’t have cars? Some testing locations clearly state they accept walk-up and bike-up testing. Recently, Physicians Immediate Care has several curbside testing locations in Chicago and states that people may arrive by any method they prefer, including walking and biking, and offers chairs for anyone not arriving in a car to wait outside the clinic.
But at the moment, due to limited availability of test kits, PIC is currently not doing testing in Illinois. They hope to have more tests soon, and we will update their website when testing is available again.
Once they are conducting tests again, PIC does not require a referral or scheduled appointment, but takes patients on a first-come, first-served basis, testing people with symptoms, healthcare workers, or anyone who has had direct exposure to a COVID-19-positive person and may be deemed at-risk.
Rush University Medical Center in the Illinois Medical District on the Near West Side also offers curbside testing for people who arrive on foot or bike. Testing is by appointment and must be triaged by a nurse.
The Chicago branch of the One Medical chain of primary healthcare clinics, located in the West Loop, offers curbside testing by appointment regardless of your mode of transportation, but only to One Medical members. During the pandemic, One Medical is offering testing with free trial memberships.
These are but a few of the dozens, and counting, of testing sites in the city. A comprehensive map of testing sites can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health website.
Navigating testing can be confusing regardless of how you get to the clinic. The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends calling their COVID-19 hotline at 800-889-3931 to be screened and directed to the closest testing location.
Update 5/7/20 12 PM: After this post was published, a Howard Brown Health Center board member notified us of the following:
@greenfieldjohn re non car covid 19 test sites in the blog. I’m on Howard Brown’s BOD. I checked with staff. All testing is at tents exterior to clinics except the Hyde Park 55th street which is walk in. Obviously if you can walk to a tent one could bike there.
— W Robert Schultz III (@Socialistdrums) May 7, 2020