Libertyville hosts free COVID testing clinic

Libertyville resident Ben Picard registers attendees to Saturday's COVID testing clinic at the Libertyville Fire Station. (Andy Hallman/The Union)
Libertyville resident Ben Picard registers attendees to Saturday's COVID testing clinic at the Libertyville Fire Station. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

LIBERTYVILLE — The Libertyville City Council hosted the first of two free COVID testing clinics Saturday at the Libertyville Fire Station.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, the city was able to offer free COVID testing to everyone who either lives or works in Libertyville. The testing was provided by the Health Research Institute in Fairfield.

“Today renewed my faith in humanity and life,” said Libertyville resident Ben Picard, who helped register people who came in.

Picard said he was heartened to see the town’s mayor, Rod Nelson, and another man carry under their shoulders two women to be tested who could not walk due to illness and old age. A young couple with a 7-month-old baby came to be tested, too, just so they would know if they had the virus or not.

Picard said the fire station attracted enough people so that the town has a robust statistical sample that can show the prevalence of the virus in the town’s population.

John Fagan, CEO and chief scientist for the Health Research Institute, said the results of the tests would be known the following afternoon, and that everyone who was tested would receive a phone call informing them of the result. He would then report the results to the state, and they would be counted in Jefferson County’s seven-day positivity rate.

Nelson and his wife Bev said they had been tested for COVID before, but using the nasal swab method instead of the saliva sample method that HRI uses. Bev said she had to get the test before her back surgery in December, and remarked that it “tickled.” Rod said the nasal swab test was “not pleasant” because of how far back the swab is inserted into the nasal cavity.

Rod said the purpose of Saturday’s clinic was to help the residents of Libertyville feel safe. He said he knows of at least one person from Libertyville, a 63-year-old, who died from COVID.

“More people have had it than we realize,” he said. “In conversations I’ve had in the last week and a half, more people than I realized had it, but did not have severe symptoms.”

Picard said Libertyville “did the right thing” Saturday by holding a free clinic. He said the town is a model of common sense and doing the right thing without worrying about economic or political gain.

“We hope bigger communities will take notice of this and replicate it,” he said.

Jefferson County Public Health released the most recent vaccine data Friday showing 49 residents of Libertyville have begun their two-dose COVID vaccine regime (907 people have started their vaccine doses in Fairfield, and 1,247 for the whole county).

The Libertyville Fire Station will host a second free COVID testing clinic from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28.