Pritzker pushes testing as COVID-19 cases, deaths mount
Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday that labs in Illinois could be processing 10,000 COVID-19 tests a day in just over a week.
That number, he said, is what health experts suggest will allow them to have a “holistic understanding” of the extent of the virus in every county of the state.
“Ultimately my goal is to reach a large enough testing capacity where we’re able to test everyone who needs a test on a regular basis,” he said.
Pritzker’s announcement comes as the state recorded another 31 deaths over the weekend, including what is believed to be the country’s first infant death linked to the disease. The state’s death count is now up to 65. State officials also reported more than 1,500 new cases, bringing the total to 4,596 in 47 counties. A total of 27,762 individuals have been tested.
As of Sunday, the state was processing 4,000 tests a day, putting it ahead of a schedule Pritzker laid out on March 24, when he said it would take two weeks to get to over 4,000 daily tests. Tests are happening at 30 hospitals and clinics, three state labs, two state drive-thru sites and three federal drive-thru sites.
Pritzker hopes to reach the 10,000 mark by April 8.
He said state labs are running a second shift of technicians and will be able to add a third shift once they obtain enough testing supplies. They are also acquiring robotic technology to further boost capacity, which could be up and running by Tuesday. Pritzker is pushing the federal government to remove restrictions that prevent the state from testing more than 250 individuals a day at drive-thru testing sites.
In addition, the state’s testing numbers could soon be helped by North Chicago’s Abbott Laboratories, which announced that they will launch a COVID-19 test that can deliver positive results within five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.
Pritzker said he spoke with Abbott leaders about putting “Illinois first in line” for the new products, and he’s optimistic they will receive tests from the company in the coming weeks.
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