COVID-19 testing sites in DuPage adapt to winter weather

  • Drivers wait in line Monday at a new COVID-19 testing site at the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park.

      Drivers wait in line Monday at a new COVID-19 testing site at the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • People line up to get a COVID-19 test at the DuPage County fairgrounds in Wheaton.

      People line up to get a COVID-19 test at the DuPage County fairgrounds in Wheaton. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, October 2020

 
 
Updated 11/24/2020 6:54 PM

The DuPage County Health Department is winterizing a drive-through COVID-19 testing center in Wheaton to keep the site open even during a cold snap.

On the same day much of the Chicago area saw its first snowfall of the season, county health department officials announced a winter operations plan for COVID-19 testing.

 

Starting Monday, Nov. 30, drivers will pull up to an enclosed, heated structure at the county complex to receive free COVID-19 testing.

The new setup will reduce the number of drive-through lanes, so health department officials are encouraging people to preregister to help shorten wait times.

The Wheaton testing center reached capacity and closed just before noon Tuesday. A new county testing site opened this week to long lines at the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park.

Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala expects the already high demand for testing to increase as COVID-19 cases surge, the weather turns colder and people spend more time indoors.

"This modified plan for drive-through testing, along with the various testing locations throughout the county, will provide the community access to testing while also keeping testing site staff and residents safe from the cold-weather elements," Ayala said in a statement.

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The health department plans to continue conducting up to 600 tests per day in Wheaton, but anticipates a slight reduction in capacity as the test site workers adjust to the new space and traffic patterns, a spokeswoman said.

Drivers don't need to make an appointment, but they can preregister at testdirectly.com/dupage before arrival. They'll need an email address to create an account, or a recorder will register people on-site. Preregistration does not guarantee testing or a place in line for that day, officials say.

The Wheaton and Villa Park sites will close for Thanksgiving and Friday.

The Villa Park site will reopen on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or until reaching a daily capacity of 600 tests.

The Wheaton site will reopen Monday, Nov. 30. Hours there run from 7 a.m. to noon while testing supplies last.

Ayala urged people to avoid gathering with those outside their household and to wear a mask anytime they're outside their home or in someone else's.

"As our county continues to experience substantial transmission of COVID-19," Ayala said, "we also want to remind everyone how critical it is to slow the spread of this virus to avoid pushing the limits of our resources."

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