Chicago To Open Midway Airport Testing Site As COVID-19 Cases Surge

Chicago covid testing
In this undated photo provided by the Illinois National Guard, a first responder is tested for COVID-19 at a drive through testing facility in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration is making efforts to expand testing and contact tracing as the coronavirus again grips the city. Associated Press
Chicago covid testing
In this undated photo provided by the Illinois National Guard, a first responder is tested for COVID-19 at a drive through testing facility in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration is making efforts to expand testing and contact tracing as the coronavirus again grips the city. Associated Press

Chicago To Open Midway Airport Testing Site As COVID-19 Cases Surge

Chicago is opening a COVID-19 testing site in a parking lot at Midway Airport, as long lines continue to plague existing sites and cases continue to surge.

Chicago’s seven-day average case-positivity rate was close to 16% as of Monday, according to the city’s most recent available data. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the Midway site will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in Parking Lot B.

“With this site we listened to the community that wanted more reliable options on the Southwest Side and wanted weekend availability for the first time,” Lightfoot announced at a Wednesday press conference.

The expansion also comes ahead of the holiday season, as Lightfoot and the city’s Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, continues to urge people not to travel. They pointed out results are not rapid enough to schedule a test before hopping on a flight.

“The diagnostic tests are a snapshot in time,” Lightfoot said. “You can’t get tested once and think, ‘I’m good for the duration of a pandemic.’”

In addition to the airport testing site, officials announced plans to relocate the drive-thru testing site currently at Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy to the Charles A. Prosser Career Academy, on Chicago’s Northwest Side.

The city is also directing $14 million worth of grants to community-based health centers so they can do more testing and contact tracing.

Esperanza Health Centers plans to open a mobile testing site in Marquette Park that would operate six days a week, president and CEO Dan Fulwiler said Wednesday.

City officials also gave their endorsement to new at-home testing kits that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Becky Vevea covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @beckyvevea.