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Illinois Health Officials: Protesters Should Get Tested For COVID-19

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COVID-19 testing site at Market Place mall in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN – Health officials say anyone who’s been out to a rally, protest or other mass gathering should get tested for COVID-19. 

Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde says anyone experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested right away. 

Otherwise, she says it’s best to get tested five to seven days after possible exposure to decrease your chance of a false negative result.

“It takes about that long to get the virus present enough that it will be picked up on the testing,” Pryde says.

Anyone who receives a negative test result should not think they’re exempt from wearing masks or continuing to practice social distancing, Pryde says.

The same goes for those who test positive and recover, since we still don’t know whether those who’ve been exposed have immunity that will protect them from reinfection.

“The testing is really just a tool right now to help us shut down any potential outbreaks,” she says.

The state of Illinois announced today they’re loosening testing criteria, allowing anyone to be eligible for a free COVID-19 test at any of the state’s public drive-through testing sites, regardless of symptoms. No appointment, doctor referral, or insurance is needed.

State officials say state-operated community-based testing sites currently have the capacity to test more than 6,000 people per day.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement that there’s cause for concern about COVID-19 spread and outbreaks as people gather in large crowds with varying degrees of social distancing.

“If there are known cases, we can make sure those people are quarantined and not exposing other individuals,” Ezike said.

The novel coronavirus has been found to spread up to two days before people start showing symptoms, state officials say.

The public drive-through testing site at Market Place mall in Champaign offers free testing 7 days a week, from 8 am to 4 pm. Pryde says there is ample capacity to test those who’ve been at rallies.

She suggests calling the CU Public Health COVID-19 hotline to find out if there are closures due to severe weather. That number is: (217) 239-7877.

A list of public and private testing sites can be found on the IDPH website.

Pryde made her comments at an online news briefing in response to questions from Illinois Newsroom and other media outlets. If you have a question you would like to ask local officials regarding COVID-19, submit it here.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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Christine Herman

Christine Herman

Christine Herman is a Ph.D. chemist turned audio journalist who covers health for the Illinois Newsroom. Her reporting for Illinois Public Media/WILL has received awards from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Public Media Journalists Association and has reached both regional and national audiences through WILL's health reporting partnership with Side Effects Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Christine started at WILL in 2015.

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