UI surpasses 1 million COVID-19 tests
December 16, 2020
With another 7,660 COVID-19 tests processed on campus on Monday, the University of Illinois has conducted more than 1 million saliva tests since the program began in early July.
UI has put together a flagship testing program, leading the nation’s universities in COVID-19 testing volume. For much of the semester, the University conducted up to 10,000 tests per day.
“It hasn’t always been smooth. We’ve had to constantly learn and adjust,” wrote Chancellor Robert Jones in a Massmail. “But we ended the semester successfully. We saw no COVID-related hospitalizations among our students, faculty or staff, and no evidence of spread in classrooms – or to our employees from our students. Local hospitals and medical providers braced for a swell of COVID-19 cases among our students, but that didn’t happen.”
The C-U campus has found 4,479 individual cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff, including 4,104 since classes began on Aug. 24.
The testing protocol has changed over the months — twice-a-week testing was the standard for everyone, until a spike in late August-early September showed the spread was 95% undergraduates. Staff, faculty and graduate students were only required to test once a week afterward, while undergrads in high risk living environments were asked to test three times every week.
In the weeks before fall break, graduate students and University staff were asked to test twice weekly again. Until Dec. 19, every person living on campus is required to test every other day.
The week after break, the rate of new cases of COVID-19 detected on campus looked very similar to pre-break numbers — at around 31 new cases per day — despite nearly 4,000 fewer tests per day.
However, the rate of spread on campus appears to have slowed, with just 11 and 12 new cases on Monday and Tuesday.