The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District started preparing for the coronavirus outbreak in January of this year, but no testing for the disease locally began until the first week of March, according to interviews with health officials.And, as of Saturday, March 28, 15 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and only 132 tests had been submitted to state testing labs for Champaign County residents, which has a population of 209,000. It is unclear if all test results have been returned because it can take days for state lab results to be sent back to the healthcare institution that submitted the test. It is unknown how many private tests are administered or coming back negative because the public health department, like many other Central Illinois county health departments, does not track private tests, and hospitals are not disclosing the information. But more tests and broader knowledge of testing and results can help give a fuller picture of the disease, said Enbal Shacham, director of the Public Health Studies Doctoral Program at St. Louis University.
“We do not know how many cases are occurring, only those that have distinct, extreme symptoms; some locations are still only letting people who traveled/or interacted with someone who traveled to get a test,” Shacham said in an email.