COVID-19 in Illinois: IDPH announces investment to expand testing in middle, high schools

Regional News

In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an effort to ensure in-person learning can fully resume, the Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday announced a $235 million investment to expand access to covidSHIELD testing to middle and high schools across the state at low or no cost. The test, developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is a saliva-based test that quickly detects the virus that causes COVID-19, including in people who aren’t exhibiting symptoms.

“For in-person learning to occur, we need to help make schools as safe as possible for students, teachers, and staff,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “To help prevent an outbreak, it is important to identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.  Having testing readily available in schools can make it easier for more students to be tested and cases identified quicker.  Testing, along with vaccination and masking, will help all of Illinois get back to in-person learning.”

Instead of a nasal swab, the test uses saliva, which takes minutes to collect and results are available within 12-24 hours after the sample reaches the lab.  The specimens will be collected at each participating school and parental consent is required.

Testing will be available for free at middle and high schools in districts that are predominately low-income and have experienced high rates of COVID-19 infection. Other schools will receive a discounted fee of $10 per test. The classification of low-income school districts is determined by the Illinois State Board of Education Evidence-Based Funding

The IDPH on Wednesday also reported 1,795 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease throughout the state, including 26 additional deaths. 

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,359,748 cases, including 22,285 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 70,216 specimens for a total of 23,505,414.  As of last night, 1,899 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 466 patients were in the ICU and 246 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from May 5-11, 2021 is 2.7%.  The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from May 5-11, 2021 is 3.3%.

A total of 10,110,969 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of last midnight.  The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 80,591 doses.  Yesterday, 73,345 doses were reported administered in Illinois.

For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

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