COVID Cases Rise, Tests Called For | Coronavirus



KANKAKEE – Neither rain nor sleet can stop a postal carrier. The elements aren’t stopping those looking for COVID-19 testing, either.

As snow and sleet fell at noon on Tuesday, about 25 people lined up outside the Center for COVID Control on Schuyler Avenue, where free PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and rapid tests were available.

John Mullen of St. Anne was in line at 275 S. Schuyler Ave. for about an hour when he was near the front line, his third attempt to get tested in the past two days.

He said Monday he arrived 30 minutes before the center opened at 8 a.m. but there was already a line forming along the block.

“I didn’t even get out of my car,” Mullen said.

Others online have had fewer problems, such as Kenneth Holmes of Kankakee, who said he had been waiting for around 40 minutes and the center was the first place he had visited.

COVID tests have become increasingly in demand and difficult to find in recent weeks as cases have increased, people travel and gather for vacations and winter vacations, and concerns about the omicron variant increase.

In Kankakee County, there have been 745 new cases and 13 deaths linked to COVID-19 since December 21, according to the Kankakee County Health Department.

The county’s 7-day moving average COVID test positivity fell from 8% on December 16 to 12.4% on December 25.

For Region 7, which includes Kankakee and Will counties, the rate is even higher at 14%.

“Obviously there’s a shortage all of a sudden,” Kankakee County Health Department administrator John Bevis said of COVID testing. “The push has caught everyone off guard again across the country, so they’re dispatching some of the tests that were happening here locally to other places, so we’re not even getting any in the health department right now. “

Fadi Mohammad, owner of the Free COVID Testing Site (FCTS) at 195 W. Washington Ave., Kankakee, which has been operating for about four months, said demand has increased in the past three weeks.

“We’ve always had a good number of people coming in to test before, but in the last two weeks that has just changed, probably three to four times more,” Mohammad said.

He said the location had to order more tests and hire another staff member. The turnaround time for PCR tests has increased from 24 to 48 hours to 72 to 96 hours, according to Mohammad.

Bevis said anyone who feels like they’ve been exposed or attended an event where someone who tests positive can get tested if they are asymptomatic, but they should definitely get tested if they develop symptoms. .

“We’re not saying don’t go to your New Years parties and things like that, but if you’re going to go, please take the precaution of trying to wear the masks inside,” he said. said Bevis. “If you are vaccinated you will be more protected than someone who is not.”

State and federal officials have spoken in recent days about using state agencies locally and sending home tests to Americans to alleviate the testing shortage.

Mohammad said testing sites like his can also help ease the burden on pharmacies and medical clinics that have been overwhelmed with testing appointments.

“To be able to give people the opportunity to come in and have peace of mind, and [testing] to be completely free for them, while taking some of the pressure off the pharmacies, these medical clinics, you know, I feel like that’s a good thing, ”he said.



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