Inside a Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Site on Chicago’s Northwest Side


The only drive-thru COVID-19 testing site within Chicago city limits is now welcoming anyone with symptoms of the virus.

Set up last month by the Illinois National Guard on the city’s Northwest Side, the site originally prioritized testing first responders, health providers and seniors.

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“More recently we have allowed public access to the facility, we’re looking for those that are exhibiting some symptoms,” said Illinois Air National Guard Lt. Col. Brian Gahan, who is overseeing the operation. “At this point we have very few people that we turn away, most people that come here are able to get a sample taken.”

Located at a former emissions testing facility at 6959 Forest Preserve Drive, the testing process usually takes only a few minutes. Results are sent out in three to five business days.

“Once you go through the checkpoint … you will be asked to provide information to confirm who you are so any lab samples can be corroborated,” Gahan said. “You will be walked through with your car … up until the point until we will provide you with swab samples and we will give you instructions, how to perform the swabbing, it’s a self-swabbing test in some cases.”

The facility has the capacity to conduct 750 tests a day; 500 are provided by the state and 250 by the federal government.

Gahan says they run through the state tests first each day to avoid mixups. 

“We don’t want to run both of them at the same time and cause any confusion in any of the paperwork. We don’t want to create any delays, and we want to keep it as safe as possible for all the patients that come through here,” he said.


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