CHICAGO - As demand continues to fall for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, both the State of Illinois and City of Chicago will be cutting back on those services this week. Starting Friday the state will be closing testing centers, and the city will be scaling back its program of in-home vaccinations.
"We see that the numbers have trickled down significantly in this phase of the pandemic," said Dr. Geraldine Luna of the Chicago Dept. of Health. "We're talking about transitioning from pandemic to endemic. Learning how to live with COVID-19."
Dr. Luna runs Chicago's COVID-19 initiative for the Department of Public Health. She said demand for vaccinations has dropped dramatically, down to between 100 and 140 vaccinations a day over the past week.
Starting Friday, the city is scaling back its home-vaccination program from seven days a week to four days a week, which will free up health workers to focus on other areas of public health that have taken a backseat since the start of the pandemic. But with COVID numbers beginning to rise again because of the BA.2 variant, Dr. Luna says it's still important for those unvaccinated to get the shot.
"Please be attentive, because we are nowhere near ending this pandemic. We need to continue to provide protections to ourselves and the people that we love," Dr. Luna said.
Also on Friday, Illinois will close ten community-based COVID testing sites across the state, impacting five clinics in the Chicago area: Arlington Heights, Aurora, Harwood Heights, South Holland and Waukegan. At one point those sites were each testing more than a thousand people a day, but now that number is down to less than 50.
The state says fewer people need the clinics now that the federal government is making home test kits available through the mail.
Both the city and state say they have plenty of vaccine and testing kits to make a quick pivot if the COVID numbers surge.
"if the demand starts to increase of course those services will be out there," Dr. Luna said.