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IDPH expands COVID-19 testing to elementary schools

IDPH expands COVID-19 testing to elementary schools

The Illinois Department of Public Health will expand access to no-cost and low-cost COVID-19 testing to elementary schools across the state.

The agency announced Wednesday that schools can use the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s saliva-based COVID-19 tests to quickly identify individuals who are positive for COVID-19 so that close contacts can be quarantined to prevent further spread.

The move is an extension of a $225 million initiative announced last month to expand COVID-19 testing access to the state’s middle and high schools. The costs are covered by federal relief funds.

“As we move ever closer to returning to how we lived pre-pandemic, it is critically important that we identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible to help prevent outbreaks, which could ultimately lead to new surges,” said department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Schools in districts that are “predominantly low-income” and that have high rates of COVID-19 infections will receive free testing, while other schools will pay a discounted fee of $10 per test. The specimens will be collected at each participating school and parental consent is required, the department said.

There were 408 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,386,262.

The seven-day average for new cases is 456, compared to 668 the prior week.

The state’s death toll is at 22,997 after 23 more deaths were reported on Wednesday.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests is 1 percent, down 0.5 percentage points from last week. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity rate using the number of COVID-19 positive tests over total tests is 1.3 percent, a 0.5 percentage point decrease from last week.

There were 41,758 tests processed over the past 24 hours. A total of 24,991,516 tests have been processed.

As of Tuesday night, 797 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, a decrease of 216 from last week. Of the patients in the hospital this week, 209 were in the ICU and 109 patients were on ventilators, the latter down 41 from last week.

A total of 11,759,105 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. The seven-day rolling daily average is 45,852 doses.

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