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ISU Rolling Out Saliva-Based SHIELD Testing Next Week

A COVID-19 testing site located behind Alamo II near Watterson Towers at ISU.
Ryan Denham
A COVID-19 testing site located behind Alamo II near Watterson Towers at ISU.

After months of delays, Illinois State University will offer quick saliva-based COVID-19 tests through the SHIELD Illinois program starting Tuesday.

ISU employees, retirees, and their dependents can schedule an appointment online after creating an account on the SHIELD Illinois portal. The testing will take place in the temporary building behind the Alamo II bookstore. (During the summer, students must test through Student Health Services, using the same antigen test they used in the spring semester, with PCR follow-up as necessary. ISU plans to roll out SHIELD testing for students in the fall.)

The SHIELD process requires individuals to deposit a small amount of saliva into a vial, which usually takes less than five minutes, and provides results within 24 hours of samples reaching a SHIELD Illinois lab.

ISU has offered free on-campus testing for students since last summer. It became available to employees in January.

But the SHIELD Illinois testing is considered a preferred option because the tests are relatively cheap, fast (about 24 hours), and (as PCR tests) accurate. The test was developed at the University of Illinois-Urbana. ISU waited months for regulators to approve its wider use, even as it set up a SHIELD lab on campus.

ISU is expecting a more traditional in-person student experience this coming fall. It’s still unclear if students will be required to be vaccinated to be on campus.

There have been more than 2,360 COVID-19 cases on campus since fall 2020.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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