The University of Illinois’ saliva-based PCR COVID-19 test will be available to a broader segment of the Champaign County community beginning April 2, it was announced Tuesday.
SHIELD CU, a partnership between OSF HealthCare and the university, will provide access to the tests for students, teachers and staff at Urbana High School, Stratton Academy of the Arts, and employees of Champaign County. Also included in the initial launch will be family and household members of U of I faculty, staff and students. All test subjects must be at least 8 years old.
The non-invasive saliva-based test was invented at the U of I and is credited with being a key reason why Champaign County’s COVID-19 positivity rates have remained lower than statewide and national averages. Results are commonly available within 12 hours and rarely more than 24 hours.
“We have worked in this community to make this town one of the safest places in the nation,” U of I chancellor Robert Jones said. “This is very, very happy news in a year where there hasn’t been a lot of bright spots.”
SHIELD CU uses the Safer Community app, which participants will need to download on a smartphone as results will be available on the app.
Grants will provide funding to allow Urbana and Stratton to be tested for free through at least June.
The cost for U of I family and household members is $10. A bill will be mailed to the home address of the sponsoring faculty, staff or student on the second business day of the month, and payment is due on the 28th of the month. (Tests for U of I faculty, staff and students – all of whom have been tested regularly since the start of the academic year — will remain free.)
Tests will be administered at the State Farm Center testing site and results determined at a U of I lab. At the collection site, you will be asked to provide a saliva sample. Subjects should refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, gum chewing and tobacco use for at least one hour before submitting a saliva sample. You will be asked to hold up your test tube so staff can confirm that there is enough saliva in the tube for testing. The process takes only a few minutes.