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COVID-19 testing site to stay open at McLean County Fairgrounds

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BLOOMINGTON (HOI) - The COVID-19 testing site at the McLean County Fairgrounds will stay open instead of closing for good this week, state and local officials announced Thursday.

The announcement was made by Alicia Tate-Nadeau, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and McLean County Department of Public Health Director Jessica McKnight.

The fairgrounds site will be a "smaller mobile testing location," and remain there "until there's no longer a need," said the IEMA director.

Tate-Nadeau said the fairground location will still be able to administer 250 tests a day.

The testing site will be run by Reditus, a private testing lab from Pekin, said State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington). Illinois National Guard members, who've been operating the facility, are being shifted to Peoria on Friday.

"There's still a lot of things to work out," said Jessica McKnight, the McLean County Health Department Administrator.

"We're also as a health department going to continue to plan and look ahead at sustainability, not just allowing this to be the only testing available," McKnight also said.

A letter the county board sent to state and national health officials said the fairgrounds site was well under daily capacity initially, but picked up soon after the easing of testing criteria.

Robust testing is considered essential before communities consider reopening businesses during the coming weeks and months.

"This is very good news for our local communities,” said Rep. Brady. 

“Thousands have driven through for testing at the Interstate Center since ‘shelter in place’ began, and testing remains a key factor in our successful reopening," Brady also said.

Howard Packowitz

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