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What to know about COVID testing in Illinois – NBC Chicago

As positive cases of COVID-19 continue to emerge in Illinois, residents have sought the latest information regarding PCR and rapid coronavirus tests.

From the time it takes to receive test results to when health officials recommend getting tested for COVID, here’s what we know:

What are the types of COVID tests?

There are two types of COVID tests, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Diagnostic tests are separated into molecular and antigenic tests.

Learn more about each type:

Molecular test
Also called: PCR / NAAT test
Collection method: nasal swab, saliva
What it shows: active COVID virus diagnosis

Antigen test
Also called: rapid test
Collection method: nasal swab
What it shows: active COVID virus diagnosis

How long does it take to get results?

Molecular tests can take less than an hour for home tests and in some healthcare settings, while some labs can take 1 to 3 days to process.

Antigen test results are usually returned quite quickly, sometimes within 15 to 30 minutes depending on the test.

When should I get tested?

Symptoms associated with the coronavirus include fever, muscle and body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Here’s the full list of symptoms to look out for, according to the CDC:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
  • Tired
  • Muscle or body pain
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The CDC notes, however, that this list does not include all symptoms.

“Anyone with symptoms is the largest group of people to test,” said Dr. Isaac Ghinai, an epidemic intelligence officer at the Chicago Department of Public Health earlier this summer. “If you’re showing symptoms of a possible COVID, whether it’s even a mild cough, you know, any of those types of mild symptoms, we would always recommend a COVID test. “

For some people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that go away within a few weeks. For others, it may not cause any symptoms. For some, the virus can cause more serious illness, including pneumonia and death.

Even those who receive the coronavirus vaccine can also contract the virus and show symptoms. Although rare, groundbreaking cases have been reported in Chicago and Illinois.

Most people vaccinated have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms, according to health officials, and the virus rarely causes hospitalization or death in these people.

Will the test tell me which variant I have?

COVID tests currently only indicate whether or not you have a coronavirus infection.

“These types of tests are not tests for the variants. They are tests for the virus and it will detect all known variants, and it won’t tell you which one, it will just say you have COVID or that you have the virus. SARS- CoV-2 which causes COVID, ”Ghinai said. “So that’s… all the diagnostic tests that are available right now are just telling you, do you have the virus or don’t you have the virus.”

Variants, however, can be detected from these tests, if they are sent to a specialized laboratory.

“This can only be done on a certain subset that meets the criteria for specimen collection,” Ghinai said. “You need a certain volume, you need a certain amount of virus in there. These specialized labs look for and then do a special type of analysis called whole genome sequencing, the DNA fingerprint of the virus basically. , and they’ll look for those mutations, and then they can say, after looking at that DNA fingerprint, we know it’s a delta, we know it. “

These sequences are then used to compare with results from around the world, according to Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“Every time this is sequenced, all over the world, scientists are actually uploading these DNA fingerprints so they can compare them, because the whole world needs to know what’s going on with the variants,” she said.

Where can I get tested?

The Illinois Department of Public Health provides community testing sites, which are open to all residents regardless of symptoms and do not require an appointment.

Here are the locations in the Chicago area:

2450 N. Farnsworth Avenue.
Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hardwood heights
6959 W. Forest Preserve Rd.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Arlington Heights
Arlington Racecourse; 823 Wilke Road
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

102 W. Water Street
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The University of Illinois shield saliva tests are also open through IDPH to all residents and do not require an appointment. Here’s where to go:

Harper College; 1200 Algonquin Road West
Monday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Joliet Junior College; 1215 Houbolt Road
Monday and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

University of Northeastern Illinois; 3601 West Bryn Mawr Ave.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Lake County College; 19351 W. Washington St.
Monday and Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Oak forest
Southern suburban college; 16333 South Kilbourn Ave.
Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Blue Island
Affordable recovery house; 13811 West
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Although appointments are not required at the above locations, you can still register for a duration by clicking here and using the agency code: df5brbrj, according to IDPH.

Walgreens also offers free COVID-19 drive-thru testing at various locations in the Chicago area for people ages 3 and older.

Here’s how the process works, according to the company’s website:

  1. Fill out a questionnaire
  2. Choose a place and time for the test
  3. Go there and stay in the vehicle with the window up
  4. Present a confirmation email, valid ID and insurance card or voucher
  5. Take a nasal swab yourself. Patients aged 3-18 will need a parent present while they self-administer the COVID test
  6. View test results on PWNHealth

To see a list of drive-thru locations nearby, click here and search for your zip code.

CVS Pharmacy offers both PCR testing and free rapid result COVID testing in select locations by appointment only. Patients are required to complete a questionnaire beforehand to ensure they are qualified, citing “limited supplies”.

To see if you qualify for a nearby COVID test, click here.

Those who live within the city limits can use the options on the Chicago Department of Public Health website:

  • At home:Some private companies will send tests directly to your home. The following tests have been approved by the FDA. They include: a nasal swab from Pixel by LabCorp, everywell or LetsGetChecked, and saliva options like Vault or Vitagene. “This is not an exhaustive list and the CDPH does not necessarily recommend a particular private company”, one can read on the website of the department.
  • Your health care provider : According to the CRPD, this is the best route for testing “because your health care provider knows your medical history and can provide you with advice that helps you understand exactly what your test result means” .
  • Community health centers: According to the CRPD, there are approximately 165 community health centers throughout Chicago. Find one near you at “No patient will be turned away because of their inability to pay. Community health centers provide services regardless of the immigration status of patients and bill for services on a sliding scale,” says the CDPH.
  • Test card:Use the City of Chicago interactive test map to find a test site near you. According to the CRPD, the map is updated frequently, but different testing sites may have different requirements. “We recommend that you call ahead or check online first,” the department says.
  • Chicago City Test Sites:Chicago offers several free community testing sites. To pre-register and make an appointment, click here.
  • Traveler test:PCR testing is available at O’Hare and Midway airports for travelers and airport / CDA employees, but it costs money. The rapid antigen test costs $ 120, with patients receiving the results in about 20 minutes. The PCR test costs $ 145, with results in about 24 to 72 hours. Anyone who takes an airport test will need to show proof of flight (within 72 hours before their flight or five days after) or proof of employment at the airport.