Where to Get COVID Tested in Chicago + My Experience

covid testing in chicago windy city cosmo

I freaked out when I thought I might have COVID. And this is why I’m writing this.

I called my best friend – scared to call her because I might have given her COVID – and told her. I looked up every possible COVID test. Then, I showed up to get tested and there was no testing that day.

Read: walk-in clinics aren’t really walk-in when it comes to COVID (more on that later).

I thought that after hours of researching and finally finding a place to get tested, I would be okay. I got in an Uber –  questioning how bad of a person this made me – and I pulled up to the building with big orange text reading “COVID Testing.” I shut the door, sanitized and walked into a parking lot filled with people spaced out. Would they take my insurance? Would I be positive? And then when I looked around and saw a girl gagging across the parking lot, I thought shit. Getting tested may be scarier than waiting for results.

So, I’m writing this to you because having gone through COVID testing as a city girl in Chicago, I wish someone prepped me.

COVID is very much still a real problem in the world and particularly in America. We’ve been quarantining for about 6 months now in Chicago, IL, and at this point, you would think testing would be available.

Well, testing is available, but it’s tricky.

Same Day testing might be available. Same day results testing is hard to find. On top of that, when to get tested is still up for debate with some medical professionals saying to get tested 5-7 days after exposure for accurate results.

Here’s the problem.

If you want us to get tested 5-7 days after we know/we think we might have been exposed to someone with COVID, then we have to wait 5-7 days for results.

Let’s pause.

Doesn’t that negate the purpose of slowing the spread? How would we ever know if we were in contact with someone with COVID and also how would we know if we had it if we were getting results up to 14 days after we know we were exposed.

The big problem is that this isn’t really efficient for keeping the city open. Quarantining when you think you’ve been exposed or know you have been exposed isn’t feasible like it was a few months ago. More things are open and we’re in contact with more people.

What it Feels Like Learning You Might Have Been/Have Been Exposed to COVID:

So, when you’re told that you have been/might have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID, what the actual are we supposed to do. Massive panic ensues. It’s like thinking you have an STD and then remembering that you slept with a lot of people that week. Only, this time it’s worse. It’s not an ex or a casual guy you’re dating, it’s people who you love and want in your life and you’re praying that none of them get it and worse, that none of them die from COVID.

And then extra panic ensues when you find out you’ve been exposed/might have been exposed and there’s no way to get testing until 5 days and results probably not until 5-7 days. That’s a lot of anxiety for you and then for all of the people you could have infected, who will also find out it might take two weeks to find out if they test positive.

We’re just too open as a city right now. The impact is too great.

What to do when someone tells you they have COVID:

If someone tells you that they have COVID or that you might have been exposed to someone with COVID – pause.

It takes a lot for someone to tell you. They are probably freaking out/not feeling very well. COVID is scary and thinking you might have it is scary but being honest and telling people that you have it and to get tested or quarantine is hard. And thinking that you might potentially kill or make someone really ill who you love, is also hard.

Remember to still love and check in on your friend/family member who told you they tested positive. Read between the lines – this is not a time to (emotionally) distant yourself from them or freeze them out of your life. There’s precautions you can take to not get COVID, but there’s always some risk that you could get it.

I always thought it was strange that in society we are taught to be afraid of people who test positive for things like AIDS or Herpes or other diseases. These people need more love and alienating someone who told you something about their health and something deeply personal, is not okay.

I was literally having nightmares that I wouldn’t have friends anymore if I tested positive for COVID. And that felt awful.

So, please: remember to treat others how you want to be treated.

Where to Get Tested:

If you need to get tested during the weekend. Testing is limited. I seriously spent hours trying to find a testing location. And then more time trying to find Rapid COVID Testing which gives you same day results.

I went to Innovative Express Care. It is open on the weekends, and I was able to get the last appointment they had available for the day when I booked in the early afternoon. You get there and it’s essentially a big parking lot for you to check in and wait to get tested. So, yes, you are literally seeing other people get tested in front of you.
Everyone has lots of space so there are minimal interactions. The process took 15-20 minutes and I did the Rapid COVID test which costs $150 – insurance doesn’t cover it. You do get results back as quickly as 30 minutes after getting tested.
The doctors were great and the one I spoke to was seriously a hero. He said he had taken the COVID test about 30-40 times for other doctors to practice so that patients could have the best possible experience. A true hero taking one or 40 for the team.
1111 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 270-5600
You can also see your doctor and get tested. I looked that up and it would take 5 days to get an appointment. The same was true if I were to get tested at a hospital.
When looking for places to get tested there’s a few things to look for. First, there’s different types of tests. There’s the Swab test which results could take anywhere from 2-7 days and tells you if you currently have COVID. It’s a process or getting a large saline swab up your nose. Then, there’s the Antibody test which is a blood test to see if you’ve had COVID. Finally, there’s the Swab Rapid COVID test which gives you same day results.
If you don’t have insurance and even if you have insurance, there are options. Some places make you get a doctor’s referral before you’re allowed to get tested there. So, check on the provider’s website.
Walgreens and CVS offer free testing. When I checked, they were booked for the next three days and then you have to come back and wait for an opening.
Walk-in clinics throughout Illinois offer free testing and they have Rapid COVID testing. There are no appointments and usually it’s a “while supplies lasts” situation. Typically testing is done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 am and people get there as early as 6 am to wait for a test. Make sure to call ahead of time so you know.
Here is a map and itemized list of all the places you can get tested for COVID in Illinois.They tell you any notes and provide all of the details about hours, what types of tests they offer, and more.

Yes, Testing Looks Painful, But You Can Do Anything for 5 Seconds.

PS if you do Rapid COVID testing, they put two swabs up your nose. I texted a friend while I was waiting to get tested and she helped me stay strong. #truefriend

So to Sum it Up:

If you think you might have COVID, breathe. Find a place to get tested. If you can get Rapid testing, wait till you find out results before telling anyone/everyone. If it’s going to be awhile before finding out test results/getting tested, you want to quarantine until you can get tested and tell people you’ve been in contact with that you might have it. And of course, listen to your health care professionals – everyone gives you different advice.




Amanda Whitfield
Amanda Whitfield

Amanda Whitfield is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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