Testing sites move indoors for colder weather

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Cameron Krasucki

A University coronavirus testing site worker pulls empty vials out of a plastic bag on Thursday. All but one COVID-19 testing site will be moving inside starting Monday.

By Vivian La, Contributing Writer

All but one COVID-19 testing site moved to indoor locations on Monday, Oct. 12, in preparation for colder weather.

One of the University’s concerns with the cooler weather is the flu.

“We are encouraging all members of the community to get their flu shot to maximize the health and safety of everyone,” Executive Associate Provost for Capital Planning Matthew Tomaszewski said in an email.

As well as encouraging flu shots, Tomaszewski and his team will continue their communication and educational messages to students. Campus Wellness Ambassadors have been “terrific advocates for ensuring others are aware of the key practices,” he said.

“The University continues to monitor our cases on a daily basis, and we will be watching for any spread and making any necessary adjustments to our testing program,” Tomaszewski said.

The process of moving outdoor testing sites indoors happened all at once on Oct. 12.

Mariah Sims, an employee who worked at the outdoor South Quad tent, said moving indoors is good for the lines and encouraging more testing.

Most outdoor locations will be moving to a nearby indoor site. For example, the Alice Campbell Alumni Center tent is now in the lobby.

Outdoor tents had signs and directions to point to a nearby indoor testing location, according to Director of Special Events Laura Wilhelm-Barr.

New locations were chosen based on the proximity to the original location, as well as other key factors.

“We need large enough space, equivalent to the square footage we had in the tent, good location and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility are key as well,” Wilhelm-Barr said.

They also have to have adequate capacity, appropriate air-circulation and be convenient for students, faculty and staff, Tomaszewski said.

While testing numbers vary based on the location and day of the week, the testing site at State Farm Center remains as the busiest location on campus. As many as 1,000 people are tested there each day, according to Tomaszewski.

Managing and running a widespread testing system is “instrumental,” Willhelm-Barr said. “It takes a lot of people to manage the testing sites, so we’re really grateful to have a lot of help from across campus.”

The testing locations at Freer Hall, Graziano Plaza, Illini Grove, Lot 31, the South Quad and Washington Park are no longer in use as of Oct. 12.

Three new locations at the Funk ACES Library, the Activities and Recreation Center, and the Ice Arena opened on Monday.

With the removal of four outdoor locations and the addition of three indoor locations, there are currently 14 testing sites across campus. There were 17 before Oct. 12.

The Alice Campbell Alumni Center, Foellinger Auditorium, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and National Center for Supercomputing Applications are moving indoors.

The Veterinary Medicine tent is the only remaining outdoor testing location because an indoor location could not be found for this site. Heaters will be added for employees and those who test, according to a Massmail sent on Oct. 7.

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