ISU to introduce Saliva-Based COVID-19 testing

Local News

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — After being tested for COVID-19 usually students at Illinois State University have to wait a couple days before getting results. The problem with that, it gives them extra time to further expose other classmates, so the university is creating a new method, which in turn will help stop this rapid spread.

Since the start of classes more than 1,100 students at ISU have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Everybody is a little surprised about how many positive cases we have had,” said John Baur, ISU’s COVID-19 Testing Coordinator.

Baur says after searching to find ways to stop the spread, the university decided spend $1,000,000 on an on campus saliva based testing lab, that should produce results in 24 hours.

“The sooner you know that you have a positive case, the sooner you can isolate and slow down the infection rate,” said Baur.

He says, aside from producing quicker results, the tests should be appealing to students.

“It’s typically a lot easier to drool or spit into a vile than to have swap stuck up your nose,” he said.

But some students say, because the university didn’t implement this at the start of the school year, they have some doubts.

“How accurate are the tests,” said Owen Rozanski, Junior. “Until we know what the percentage of what the test results are going to be, and how accurate they are, we are not going to really know.”      

Others say whatever is happening now isn’t working so it can’t hurt to try something new.

“We can quarantine faster,” said Kaylyn Bauer, Freshman. “Get students in their rooms, and stop exposing so many students. I think that’ll help, I don’t know if it’ll solve the issue, but it’ll at least help.”

The plan is to have students tested first, and then eventually include faculty and staff. Baur says, because the lab will have excess capacity, other community partners will be able to use it as well.

Baur expects to have the lab up and running in 8-10 weeks.

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