DePaul's COVID testing program explained, men's basketball on pause and a passed budget
And some recs for movies and games to play in quarantine
Welcome back to the newsletter, folks! Your newsletter team – Francesca, Justin, Cam and Associate Editor Aneesah Shealey – is back with the news and some quarantine-entertainment recs from Robin and Pueblo News Editor Richie Requena. We hope you all had a safe and healthy holiday, and are excited to get back to our weekly jam!
A tutorial of DePaul’s COVID-19 testing program, from someone who’s actually used it
On November 4, DePaul’s Office of Health, Promotion and Wellness announced via Newsline that they would be launching a mail-in COVID-19 testing service that would be open to students, faculty and staff at DePaul who are based in the United States. At that time, I only knew two details about it: one, that the program is free and the bill is comped by the university, and two, you have to call a phone number to reach it.
I (Cam Rodriguez here, 14 East’s managing editor!) decided to request a test from the university as a precaution before going home for break - I didn’t want to take any chances, and it was important to me that I had an opportunity to get tested, particularly because the accessibility to getting a test was different where I’d be headed.
With all of that in mind, this is how you can receive a COVID-19 test kit from the university, and mail it back in from wherever you are in the United States.
Call DePaul’s Contact Tracing Team
In order to receive the test, you have to be screened by DePaul’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing team, which also manages the reporting of cases and contact tracing of cases across the university.. The team is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST, any day of the week, and you can give them a call at (773) 325-3300.
My screening was pretty simple: they asked if I thought I had been exposed to COVID-19 (I wasn’t sure, but I had been in a risky situation, so I wanted to be positive) and how long it had been since that exposure (a week). They asked for my name and DePaul ID number, and then told me to check my DePaul email shortly for next steps.
Register for a kit with LabCorp
After the call, I got an email from Pixel by LabCorp, the lab DePaul partnered with that would be administering the test. I followed the instructions in that email and a few others, entering things like my shipping address, my phone number, and other basic information. In order for the kit to come the next day, you’ll have to request it before 4 p.m. – otherwise, your order will be processed the following day, and you’ll receive the kit the day after that (like I did).
At no point during this process should you be asked or prompted for any financial information, including a credit or debit card number. You’ll receive a receipt, but ultimately DePaul foots the bill – the program is free to students, faculty and staff.
Actually do the test
At the beginning of the pandemic, our social feeds were barraged with videos of people in drive-thru test sites, seemingly getting their brains scratched, which I know definitely left a bad impression on me when it came to testing. Fortunately, the Pixel by LabCorp test is an at-home PCR test, which has to go only a few centimeters into your nose.
The test comes in a purple box about the size of a couple books stacked on top of each other, and it’s pretty discreet. I received my test just before heading home, and ultimately took the test there due to shipping constraints –– the test has to be picked up by FedEx and shipped express overnight, and the results could be invalidated if sent on a weekend.
It’s important to make sure you have options for FedEx Express shipping prior to taking your test, because the contents of the package are time-sensitive. I used FedEx’s website to find drop-off boxes near me (as well as the pickup schedule for my area) before deciding on scheduling a pickup using instructions (with a script!) that LabCorp includes in the kit. Based on weighing the different options, it seemed like the best time to take the test was in the morning or midday on a weekday, which gave FedEx plenty of time to pick up the test while still making it eligible for lab processing.
Honestly, taking the test was pretty simple; the kit came with a full breakdown of everything included, plus step-by-step instructions on administering the test: after washing my hands thoroughly, all I had to do was uncap a small tube with saline at the bottom and swab the inside of my nose with an enclosed swab that looked kind of like a Q-tip. Then, I just dropped the swab in the tube, sealed it, washed my hands again, and put that tube in a biohazard-labeled ziploc bag.
Send it back and wait for results
After taking the test, you’ll want to register your kit. This is different from the initial registration, and is more so the lab is able to correctly tie your results back to you. On the tube, as well as on a card enclosed in the kit, you’ll find a number that is necessary to log the kit with LabCorp. Without registering your kit, the sample could be rejected, so following the instructions on that is critical for the entire process to be worth it.
Registering the kit simply requires the number on your test barcode, plus the date and time you took the test, the first date you started experiencing symptoms, and other information about your specific experience with COVID-19. After all of that, I took out a card with my test kit number, which is intended to be a receipt, and the FedEx shipping bag that I’d need for the pickup. The biohazard bag gets placed back in the purple box, and the box gets placed in the FedEx bag. Depending on your shipping method, you can either just put it on your front porch or drop it off at a dropbox location.
You’ll get your results by email and phone within 1 to 2 days after your test is received by the lab - I did my test on a Friday and got my results back by Sunday, because the lab is open seven days a week. During that waiting period, you’ll need to quarantine, because you’re waiting on test results and could potentially be infectious. Ultimately, I tested positive, something I wouldn’t have known without having the access to this test, and received both a simplified results sheet as well as a full lab sheet that I could download.
In Chicago news:
Although Illinois is seeing a small decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations amid the fall wave, we’re not out of the clear. Health officials are still wary of cases rising post-Thanksgiving, from Chicago Tribune’s Joe Mahr and Dan Petrella.
A 300-person party in Wicker Park was shut down by the Chicago Police Department over the weekend. The party, which was held in the basement of former cocktail bar The Bedford, was completely illegal under current city and state coronavirus restrictions and also received citations for violating several other health and safety codes, Kelly Bauer of Block Club Chicago reports.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s controversial 2021 city budget was passed last week, which included a property tax increase and a small cut to the police budget, despite the city’s widespread budget poll which illustrated a public desire to cut police spending significantly. Here are 4 real proposals for cutting the police budget, from 14 East’s very own Grace Del Vecchio for City Bureau (via the TRiiBE).
In DePaul News:
Controversy surrounds the removal of Elijah Brewer from his post at the Driehaus College of Business earlier this month. Brewer had been serving as the chair of finance and was the only Black person serving as a department chair at the college. However, he claims that a series of questionable practices leading up to his removal, such as the lack of a conference between DePaul’s Finance Advisory Board and the college to discuss the removal, have called the decision’s ethics into question.
Brewer claims that this missing conference, in addition to a lack of a formal vote regarding his removal, created a situation that was not fully transparent. Carol Hughes, spokesperson for DePaul, in an interview with The DePaulia, said that Brewer’s removal and the events leading up to it were made transparent to stakeholders. However, the stakeholders say that the results of an anonymous survey, which had taken the place of a formal vote in Brewer’s removal, had not been shared with them before his removal was announced and that the stakeholders had not had a say in the final decision.
The only reason Brewer was given for his removal was a claim that he had “three strikes” against him, which made him appear unfavorable in the eyes of senior administration. His status as the only Black department chair at the college and his subsequent replacement by someone who is white have called the college’s commitment to diversity further into question.
The university remembers the life of Lori Holland, chair of DePaul’s Board of Trustees, who passed away on November 26 at the age of 63. During her time at the university, Holland expressed fondness for serving a student body dedicated to “community service, social advocacy and creative problem solving.” A private service is being held at the St. Vincent de Paul church, with a celebration of life event to take place on a to-be-announced date.
DePaul men’s basketball has been put on pause during the past couple of weeks due following positive COVID-19 test results from its Tier 1 group, which is the designation given to athletes, faculty and staff in the program who have been determined to be the most at-risk to spread the virus due to their level of exposure to others. On November 19, the program announced that it would be pausing its activities and canceling its games on November 25 and 28, as well as the one scheduled for December 1.
DePaul’s student food pantry, located in the Lincoln Park Student Center, is still open and accepting donations over the December intersession. Its hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donations may be dropped off inside the building northwest entrance at the corner of Belden and Kenmore, and financial donations can be given virtually by following this link.
Don’t wanna read the news? Here’s what else you need to know today:
Nationally, a bipartisan group of senators are seeking a solution to COVID-19 relief for the American people. President-Elect Joe Biden is to receive his first briefing following President Trump’s delays in election certification, while Supreme Court justices are doubtful of President Trump’s ability to not count undocumented immigrants in the 2020 Census. In Oregon, a nurse has been placed on leave at her job because of a TikTok where she bragged about not wearing a mask, sparking debate.
Need something to do this week?
Are you interested in something super bingeable and entertaining? Then I suggest you sit down and cozy up with The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix starring Anya Taylor-Joy who finds herself in an orphanage where she learns the game of chess. In this seven episode limited series you’ll see her go from humble beginnings to a meteoric rise and twists and turns in between.
If you can keep up with subtitles (or can understand Spanish) why not check out Mexico’s submission for the International Feature Film Oscar I’m No Longer Here? (Ya no estoy Aqui) The transnational film stars Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino in his break-out role in his coming of age story that celebrates Cumbia music from Monterrey when he is forced to leave his hometown and flee to Jackson Heights, Queens, to start a new life. It’s not a sob story, has great cinematography and is available on Netflix.
If a game is more your speed, try Cook Serve Delicious 2 (my favorite) or 3 if you are looking for a challenging Diner-Dash-like game that will keep you on your feet serving customers good food, fast. You can find Cook Serve Delicious on Steam or the Nintendo Switch store.
All of these testing sites can be accessed for free and without insurance.
Howard Brown offers free, walk-in COVID-19 testing at multiple locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, in addition to mobile testing sites that are updated weekly, which you can access here.
The Illinois Department of Health and the City of Chicago have opened more free COVID-19 testing sites in the city and surrounding counties, which are listed with more information here.
In the spring, the City of Chicago partnered with CORE response to set up free drive-thru and walk-in testing sites in the city, primarily on the South and West sides, with appointments available Monday through Friday. Register here.
The city has also updated its COVID-19 testing program with more mobile sites, which change weekly. More info here.
Mental Health Resources
At Open Counseling, there’s a list of people and nonprofits with counseling services available for free or low cost.
This website compiles mental health resources, including therapist/counselor directories and other online resources.
The Center on Halsted offers behavioral health, anti-violence and educational resources for LGBTQIA+ people.
Howard Brown Health offers anti-racism resources and sliding scale counseling specializing in the LGBTQ+ community.
This document is a resource for Black people experiencing racial trauma. This master list includes specific resources as well as protesting tips and donation links.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago who provide services for under $75.
And the Trans Lifeline’s Peer Support Hotline is a resource operated by transgender and nonbinary staffers for the trans community: 877-565-8860.
The Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago is a nonprofit that provides affordable, sliding-scale counseling. Call (312) 263-4368 extension 9081 to schedule an intake appointment (counseling is not religious-centered).
That’s all from us this week, folks. As always, stay safe, healthy and be sure to check your inbox again next Monday.