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AURORA – A new COVID-19 testing facility that opened Wednesday at the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora promises to contribute greatly to the testing being done in the region.
The drive-through facility, which can test up to 600 people a day, is being run by the Illinois National Guard. Testing is free.
The site, located at 1650 Premium Outlet Blvd, will be open seven days a week. COVID-19 testing is also being done at the VNA Health Care facility at 400 N. Highland Ave. in Aurora. In addition, hospitals and private doctors in Aurora are also doing testing.
"With all combined, I hope to have a capacity to test more than 1,000 people per day in the city of Aurora," Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said during a news conference Wednesday.
Irvin, along with Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman, who also spoke at the news conference, have recovered after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“For weeks I went on what I consider a horrific roller coaster ride of health or lack thereof," Irvin said. "I went to the edge and clawed my way back. I experienced things I never thought imaginable. Thankfully, I recovered, with the knowledge of what COVID-19 can do to human beings being embedded now in my memory and DNA. I don't want that to happen to anyone else."
He said testing is a key step in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Aurora currently has 312 cases of COVID-19, according to the Kane County Health Department's website. As a whole, Kane County has 804 confirmed cases and 39 deaths, according to the website.
Ziman agreed with Irvin about the importance of testing.
"Once we identify who has the virus, it is appropriate to treat those individuals and to isolate them to prevent the spread of the disease," she said. "And in turn, that identifies more people that have been exposed who can then also help prevent the spread of the disease."
The Chicago Premium Outlets testing site is the fourth testing site in the state run by the National Guard.
“Some may see it odd that people in uniform, the National Guard, is out here supporting this event,” National Guard Adjutant General Richard Neely said. “But we know that we bring a unique capability with our medical teams and our logistics teams to be able to provide this support here in the community.”
Hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.( or earlier if testing capacity is reached). Tests are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. The site will close by 4 p.m. or when testing capacity is reached for the day, whichever comes first.
Tests can be taken by all individuals with symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever), including but not limited to, senior citizens and people with underlying conditions.
All healthcare workers and first responders can also be tested, regardless of symptoms. All tests are self-administered swabs. Each person getting tested will be handed the swabs and directions through their car window.
They will then have to swab their own nose and place it back in the bottle. Anyone who will be tested must be seated at a functioning window in a vehicle.
Irvin also spoke about the need for residents to continue to abide by the statewide stay-at-home order as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order first took effect March 21.
"For more than a month, we have been striving to abide by the state-at-home order," he said. "And because of that, we know we have saved lives. It may be inconvenient some days, it may be uncomfortable at times. But without question, it is temporary and absolutely necessary."