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Long lines for free COVID tests at St. Clair County Fairgrounds

Illinois

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – With the spike in new COVID-19 cases across the St. Louis area comes a new spike in people getting tested.

A free pop-up testing site at the St. Clair County Fairgrounds in Belleville had about 75 people waiting in line 30 minutes before testing started on Thursday. 

The line was continuous for at least three hours; no breaks.   

Daily testing numbers in St. Clair County back up what seems clear to the naked eye at area testing sites in recent days: testing is up significantly. 

St. Clair County reported 1,360 more people tested Thursday; 1,738 one week ago; 979 one month ago.    

The testing surge provided a clearer picture of Covid-19’s spread, said Barbara Hohlt, Executive Director of the St. Clair County Health Department. It showed the virus was all around us, she said.  

Although the overwhelming majority of cases were not serious, more Covid-19 patients than ever in were in St. Clair County (nearly 100 of the region’s total of close to 1,000), in ICU’s, and on venitaltors, she said.   

The county reported one additional Covid-related death Thursday, bringing its pandemic total to 240.   

“I had a relation die of this,” said Shelly Carter of Belleville, who was waiting to be tested, Thursday. “I think too many people think it’s a joke; not when you’re losing that many people, it’s not a joke.” 

“Somebody that I know tested positive,” said Rick Fellner, of Belleville, who was also waiting in the testing line. “Just for safety purposes I’m going to get tested, that way I know for sure.” 

“Getting tested is the absolute way to find out,” Hohlt said. “That’s our public health way of getting people out of the general population and isolating or quarantining them for the appropriate amount of time so they don’t continue to spread it.”   

There’s a list of upcoming free testing sites on the Illinois side of St. Louis at the St. Clair County Health Department’s website.

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