Leading coordinator for the soon-to-be COVID-19 testing sites at Illinois State University is working toward a renewed plan.
As a chemistry professor on campus, John Baur has joined the University of Illinois to have saliva-based tests up and running before the second semester. With higher testing capacity, the university would be able conduct tests at a more successful and frequent pace.
“We’ll be able to do faculty and staff as well, our current contract is only for students at a limited capacity.” said Baur. “The other advantage is that the turn-around time should be very quick; within one to two days.”
To allow the labs to get set up, a few things will be happening at the same time. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) must be certified to conduct laboratory testing and will also require clinical laboratories to be certified. It allows Baur to search for the right staff with qualifications who know how to run a lab.
The preparation to a successful testing site involves the proper equipment needed. The demand for testing supplies is high, and there is a lead time for collecting the supplies.
“Fortunately, the University of Illinois has been gearing up to deploy labs across the state, and they have equipment that we should be able to get quicker than just doing it on our own.” said Baur.
Baur is looking to take steps to amplify the technology so students, staff and faculty will be notified sooner with their test results.
The plan in preparation for running the facility is going to take about 10 weeks to start saliva-based tests, costing around $1 million. More than one site is going to be implemented on campus, but by the time testing sites are functioning, winter weather will be starting.
Baur has collected ideas on how operations will be happening during the cold season in Illinois.
“We’re going to identify some sites, either a pass through in a building or somewhere protected from the elements.” Baur said.
As drive-thru operations continue at the fire station near Cardinal Courts, Baur hopes to keep that open as a collection site.
The University of Illinois has distributed its test earlier than ISU and Baur wants to work out the logistical issues that U of I has been facing on its campus.
“One of the advantages to us going a little later is it will get some of those bugs worked out so hopefully our implementation can go a little smoother.” Baur said.