By Ethan Simmons
The University of Illinois has begun spreading its testing to certain community groups and members.
After ten months of on-campus function, the saliva-based tests have been made available to household members of U of I students, faculty and staff, Champaign Public Works employees and two local schools: Stratton Elementary and Urbana High School.
For everyone but the local schools, the tests are available at the State Farm Center. Both Stratton and UHS have their tests taken on-site.
The tests are processed in a separate lab — the annex of the Veterinary Medicine Laboratory. Each test costs $10 to perform, billed to the University sponsor for families of students, faculty and staff. Tests are processed within 48 hours
State Farm is open for community tests from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Katie Krezmer teaches second grade at Westview Elementary School. She’s excited for the added safety the tests could bring for her and her classroom.
“I work with little kids, sometimes their masks don’t even fit right,” she said. “It’s nice to know I’m not passing it on to other people.”
Krezmer got the testing access from her fiance, who’s a graduate student at the U of I.
Next, UI admin is planning to expand testing to more community groups with common identification systems, such as other public school students and staff.
To-date, hundreds of tests have been processed at the lab annex. Above all, SHIELD team members emphasize the importance of continued testing.
“It’s estimated that over half the spread comes from those who have not developed symptoms (of COVID-19) or never will develop symptoms,” said Neal Cohen, SHIELD CU co-lead.