jacquiCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) renewed her call for the state to create a testing site easily accessible to the residents of Auburn Gresham, a community with one of the highest infection rates of COVID-19 in the state, and the home of the first known woman in Illinois to lose her life to the deadly pandemic.

“This pandemic has made clear that the residents in Auburn Gresham are more vulnerable due to lack of fresh food access and health care and suffer disproportionally with the underlying chronic conditions of asthma, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and kidney failure,” Collins said. “Patricia Frieson, the first woman in Illinois to lose her life to COVID-19, was a unique and beloved person who nonetheless was far from the only one in these dire straits.”

Auburn Gresham is located in the socio-economically vulnerable zip code of 60620 that as of April 30 has seen 683 cases of COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Many of the residents of Auburn Gresham are the essential workers who cannot afford to shelter-in-place because they are the bus drivers, store clerks, janitors and nursing home employees.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the 30-year lifespan difference between North Side and South Side residents. Collins said for residents who may lack transportation options, other testing sites have become all but inaccessible.

“Gov. Pritzker has made admirable strides in increasing the state’s testing capacity but until we have a comprehensive plan of testing, tracing and treatment, there’s no way to mitigate the damage being done in the community,” Collins said.

Auburn Gresham is home to a large population of senior citizens who live in a number of senior buildings dotting the community.

“In Auburn Gresham, a neighborhood where few indeed are privileged with work that allows them to telecommute, these tests are needed to let essential workers know when they need to self-isolate and protect their fellow members of the community from the virus,” Collins said.

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