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Coronavirus

Getting a coronavirus test can be a challenge, even for a Joliet nurse

Joliet police block off the line to the coronavirus test site in the parking lot of the Walmart store at  2424 W. Jefferson St.
Joliet police block off the line to the coronavirus test site in the parking lot of the Walmart store at 2424 W. Jefferson St.

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Registered nurse Gini Lester made it into the line at the coronavirus test site at a Joliet Walmart on Wednesday – her third day of trying.

Lester, of Joliet, already had been waiting three hours. Judging by the 60 or so cars ahead of her, she still had a long wait.

“It looks like I’m the end of the line, so I hope they didn’t miscount,” she said.

The drive-thru test site set reportedly handles 72 cars a day. It opens each day at 10 a.m. Lester arrived at 7:30 a.m. to get a spot Wednesday after being turned away the previous two days when she arrived later.

“I am grateful that they have this,” she said.

Although the site staffed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is exclusively for health care professionals and first responders, they have had a hard time getting in since it opened Sunday because of the limited testing being done daily.

The challenge of getting enough tests is happening as news comes out each day about a celebrity or politician having tested positive or negative for coronavirus.

Lester said she’s not surprised that the rich and famous may manage to get tested while others don’t.

“This is the United States,” she said. “People with money and celebrities have always had preferential treatment. If we had a right to health care in the United States it would be different. But we have no right to healthcare in the United States. It’s a business.”

Maybe it’s not just America.

The news came out Wednesday that Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus.

One benefit of going to the Walmart site was that those who qualified to be tested did not have to show symptoms.

“So really this is the easiest way,” said one health care administrator who drove 45 minutes to get to the Joliet Walmart and get in line.

“I got in here at about 7:15,” she said, but was not complaining. “I’m so grateful that this is even happening because I just want to rule it out.”

The Joliet Walmart store is one of two Walmarts in Illinois where the tests are being administered to health care professionals and first responders. One other such test site in Will County is at a Walgreens in Bolingbrook.

The health care administrator waiting in line for her test looked toward the Walmart store nearby where retail workers were dealing with the public on a daily basis without any easy access to a coronavirus test.

“It’s amazing to me,” she said, “that for the most exposed of the population there is nothing available for them to get the tests.”

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