As Illinois increased its COVID-19 testing capacity, the state saw its largest one-day spike Friday with more than 2,700 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total to nearly 40,000.
Gov. JB Pritzker set a goal last month for Illinois to conduct 10,000 tests per day. The state exceeded that goal, reporting over 16,000 results between Thursday and Friday.
When more people are tested, more cases will be discovered, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“We can detect cases earlier and potentially before an outbreak occurs,” Ezike said. “Testing is one of the very key elements to helping us stop spread and overcoming this pandemic.”
Ezike said it’s important to know where the virus is circulating so they can target efforts.
“It is not only important to identify individuals who need to be isolated or treated in a hospital, but it also informs our efforts on how to stop the spread, and to identify the areas where there is more spread,” Ezike said.
Currently, there are 112 free public testing sites throughout Illinois. Sites are located in Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Edwardsville, Champaign, and around Chicago and the suburbs. The governor said more screening will eventually lead to a lower infection rate.
“Our ability to test and get results quickly is key to our ability to map the presence of this virus, and to gradually reduce our mitigation measures and get more people back to work,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker also addressed why the state isn’t pursuing antibody testing to trace and treat COVID-19. “As of today, there still are no antibody blood tests certifiably proven to accurately and consistently diagnose COVID-19 antibodies,” said Pritzker.
Pritzker said when the tests prove to be accurate and reliable, he will deploy them as widely as possible.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pritzker has made his decisions based on science, and it’s not confirmed on whether these tests could explicitly identify COVID-19 antibodies. The test must definitely identify antibodies for COVID-19 before it could become fully effective.