SHIELD Illinois, the University of Illinois System’s in-state, non-profit COVID-testing unit, is partnering with DePaul University and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to launch a free community testing site at DePaul’s Loop Campus. The site launches today and will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. at 333 S. State St., inside the Barnes and Noble bookstore.
SHIELD Illinois now partners with three testing sites in the city of Chicago – DePaul’s Loop Campus, the Dirksen Courthouse and Northeastern Illinois University – and a total of 24 sites statewide. The sites are funded through agreements with CDPH and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In addition, a new lab at the University of Illinois Chicago campus opened last week to process SHIELD Illinois tests. Operated by Shield T3, the U of I System’s national testing unit, the lab will be capable of processing 55,000 covidSHIELD tests per week at full capacity.
The lab will be dedicated to serving Illinois schools, businesses and community-testing sites, and will bring SHIELD Illinois’ capacity up to 400,000 saliva-based, PCR tests per week. SHIELD Illinois has processed more than 3 million tests since the start of the pandemic.
“The University of Illinois System continues to adapt and innovate in response to the evolving challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and these improvements to access and capacity are just the latest example,” University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen said. “We are proud to have developed a test that is protecting people across Illinois and beyond, and now to be able to continue expanding and improving this safety net.”
SHIELD Illinois’ network of 10 labs produces results in less than 24 hours through process optimization and short transportation times. The labs are located at:
- UIC Shield T3 in downtown Chicago
- HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur
- Gift of Hope, Itasca
- Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood
- Illinois State University, Normal
- SHIELD 451, North Chicago
- The University of Illinois College of Medicine, Rockford
- SHIELD Illinois laboratory, Springfield
- The University of Illinois Annex, Urbana
- Shield T3 laboratory, Madison, Wis.
The covidSHIELD test was developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is able to detect the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, including the Delta and Omicron variants. The saliva-based process has been shown to detect the virus even before symptoms appear.
“What we’re experiencing is unprecedented, but we are ready for it,”said SHIELD Illinois managing director Ron Watkins. “Half of the positive samples we've discovered during the life of the program have come since January 1. Our team continues to provide a great public service, sending results approximately 13 hours after a person provides their sample, on average."
SHIELD Illinois has testing agreements with 1,706 K-12 schools serving about 1 million students and staff; 57 community colleges and universities; 24 community testing sites; numerous businesses, such as Rivian and ADM; and government agencies, including the Illinois General Assembly.