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Pace and CTA pitch in on COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts

6:06 PM CST on March 10, 2021

Administering the vaccine at a CTA workplace. Photo: CTA

Pace announced yesterday that it's teaming up with the city of Chicago to make it easier for paratransit users to safely access COVID-19 testing sites. Meanwhile, the CTA provided an update on efforts to vaccinate its workers.

Using Pace paratransit to get to testing sites

Pace is providing paratransit customers service to four Chicago Department of Public Health-operated coronavirus testing sites at four locations across the city, including facilities at Douglass Park, Prosser Career Academy, Gately Park, and Parking Lot B of Midway Airport. Testing is free to all people, regardless of citizenship status.

“CDPH is committed to keeping Chicagoans safe as we continue our fight against COVID-19," said CDPH commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady in a statement. "Testing is critical at this time, and we are excited to partner with Pace to ensure that those in need have access to our COVID-19 community-based testing sites.”

Testing sites will open 30 minutes before their usual operating times for Pace paratransit riders. In addition, people who arrive via paratransit at testing centers during normal hours will be given priority testing, Pace said.

“We’re pleased to partner with the city of Chicago to ensure access to COVID-19 testing,” said Pace executive director Rocky Donahue. “Testing is a vital resource. Partnered with mask usage and vaccinations, we’ll save lives and get through this pandemic together.”

To use this service, paratransit customers should call and reserve a trip as they normally would. They should alert the paratransit scheduler their your appointment time. Appointments usually last 30-45 minutes return trips should be scheduled accordingly. Customers will be picked up where they are dropped off within the allowed 30-minute pick up window. Standard Pace paratransit fares ($3.25) apply. Registered Pace paratransit riders can also use the Taxi Access Program for their trip. At this time, fares, normally $3, are waived and paratransit riders may use the service free of charge within the city of Chicago.

All city of Chicago static testing sites have both walk-up and drive-through options. Pace paratransit riders must use the walk-up option since paratransit dirvers cannot stay on site during the test. All people seeking testing are encouraged to register beforehand at ChicagoCovidTesting.com to reduce wait times and dress for the weather to stay warm while waiting.

In addition to non-mobile testing sites, the city partners with community organizations to operate mobile testing sites deployed throughout Chicago each week. For more information visit www.chi.gov/covidtesting.

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Signs outside a CTA vaccination site. Photo: CTA
Signs outside a CTA vaccination site. Photo: CTA

CTA efforts to get employees vaccinated

The CTA recently launched a phased program to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all CTA employees. Transit workers are included in Phase 1b of the city’s vaccination plan, which began last month. In keeping with public health guidance, frontline employees like bus and rail operators are prioritized.

“CTA employees have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis from the very start, and they have been unwavering in their commitment to provide transit service to our communities,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. in a statement. “They have been unsung heroes who’ve stepped up when the city needed them the most.”

The prescription delivery service Capsule is doing the vaccinations at CTA workplaces using the Moderna vaccine. The service is offered free to all CTA employees. After frontline workers are vaccinated, other personnel – including maintenance, infrastructure, and other operations support staff – will receive the shots. The CTA has about 11,000 employees.

According to a CTA statement, as of February 25, 1,256 employees, or a little over 11 percent of the transit agency’s workforce, tested positive for COVID. 10 of those workers died from the disease.

More on CTA’s efforts is at transitchicago.com/coronavirus.

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