Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday the expansion of testing as well as alternative housing to address the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color and people with disabilities across the state.
In Illinois’ Metro East region, three locations of the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation system will be offering up to 470 swabs per day early next week.
The swabs will be sent to Anderson Hospital in Maryville for testing. This partnership will assist communities in East St. Louis and the surrounding region.
Through a partnership with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and four Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) on Chicago’s South and West Sides, Illinois will expand testing in these communities over the next several days to an additional 400 tests per day.
The four FHQCs are Lawndale Christian Health Center, PCC Community Wellness Center, Chicago Family Health Center and Friend Family Health Center. The swabs collected at these four FQHCs will be sent to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for testing. FQHCs are community-based health centers that welcome those who are low-income, uninsured or underinsured.
Additionally, the state-run South Suburban drive-through testing center will open early next week in the Markham-Harvey area. The testing center will be running hundreds of tests per day, with results coming back to patients faster than the federally-contracted labs.
As the state works to get to widespread testing, the state is asking people who get tested to fill out a basic demographical survey. Approximately 50.9 percent leave a blank response to the question about racial identification, as is their right to do so. As of April 9, the testing data is as follows:
“Generations of systemic disadvantages in health-care delivery and health-care access in communities of color, and Black communities in particular, are now amplified in this crisis all across the state and across the nation,” said Pritzker. “We are making sure that our plans reflect equity in access, testing and treatment and we are asking the same of healthcare providers across the state. It’s in moments of crisis that we owe each other even greater expressions of humanity.”
Expansion of alternate housing
Through Illinois’ early crisis preparations, the state required each local jurisdiction to prepare an alternate housing plan to help residents quarantine in a safe space. The state moved quickly to prepare up to 2,000 hotel rooms across Illinois to support that response.
The state has facilities with rooms that could be ready to be activated next week in Springfield, Rockford, Metro East, the Quad Cities, Schaumburg, Mount Vernon, Peoria, Carbondale, Quincy, Marion, Macomb, Champaign and the collar counties. The state is also supporting the City of Chicago and Cook County in building out their own significant response.
Across Illinois, multi-generational families live in one home, and families or roommates live in smaller apartment units that make self-isolating much more difficult.
These rooms will be available to help address that need and will be available to residents who tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospital-level care or for asymptomatic high-risk individuals who need social distancing as a precautionary measure. These rooms will also be available to medical professionals and first responders.
Residents will be able to access these resources through their local health departments, who play a vital role in assisting the state with our COVID-19 response. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has directed $6.8 million dollars of its COVID-19 response funds to support every health department across the state.
Guidance relating to non-discrimination in medical treatment for
The state has issued guidance to the healthcare community on their obligations to provide healthcare in an ethical, equitable and nondiscriminatory manner to people of color, people with disabilities, and all Illinoisans.
Health-care institutions should review their protocols regarding allocation and rationing of limited health-care resources to ensure that they incorporate the fundamental principles of fairness, equity, and non-discrimination.
Significant legal protections are in place to prohibit discrimination in the delivery of healthcare. These laws provide a mandate to health-care providers at all times, including during the current COVID-19 crisis. The guidance provides recommendations for the delivery of appropriate care both during the immediate public health crisis caused by COVID-19 as well as to address the continued impact of the crisis on the healthcare system.
The guidance can be accessed by visiting: