IDPH announces distribution of free COVID-19 rapid tests for vulnerable Illinoisans

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced it will be distributing one million over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to residents in economically disadvantaged zip codes outside Chicago.

The distribution is being done through a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s public charity, RF Catalytic Capital and its Project ACT (Access COVID Tests) program.

The announcement comes as the CDC released data showing that 31counties in Illinois are at an elevated Community Level for COVID-19, with all of those at the Medium level. IDPH is reporting 14,225 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, and 54 deaths since October 28.

“COVID-19 tests remain a critical tool that can help limit the spread of the virus,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “A positive test early in the course of your illness allows you to protect yourself by providing an opportunity to seek treatment earlier, likely reducing severe disease. A positive test also allows you to protect your loved ones and community by knowing when to stay home and not spread the disease to others. We are grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for partnering with us to make it possible for thousands of families in Illinois to have free access to at-home tests.”

The IDPH Director also recommends people get fully up-to-date with a COVID-19 bivalent booster shot and a flu shot ahead of the winter respiratory virus season and the holidays.

Through the Project ACT program, IDPH will be distributing one million at-home antigen tests to 200,000 Illinois families in zip codes outside the City of Chicago that are rated high on a Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). Households can find out if they are in an eligible zip code and request one package of five tests on a first-come-first-serve basis at the Project ACT website. The tests will be delivered to the home address.

Free COVID-19 testing locations are available throughout the state, including in Chicago, and can be found on the IDPH website’s testing locator page.

The updated boosters are available at pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. The best way to locate a vaccine provider near you is to visit and search for bivalent booster availability.