Drool, please: University of Illinois rolls out saliva tests for coronavirus

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Students and staff at the University of Illinois can be tested for the coronavirus with a saliva sample instead of an uncomfortable nasal swab.

“We think this is breakthrough technology,” said Tim Killeen, university president. “It’s low cost. It’s rapid. We’re going to be able to do this for many, many people coming in.”

A tent opened Tuesday near the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, the Chicago Tribune reported. Results from the free tests should be available within 24 hours. The university believes it can perform 10,000 tests a day at various sites at the Champaign-Urbana campus.

Saliva tests will also be offered at campuses in Chicago and Springfield.

“Our goal, of course, is to have everything as safe as possible. ... The idea is by not spitting — you just dribble into the tube — then you don’t create aerosols,” said Martin Burke, a chemistry professor who is leading the effort.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported nearly 600 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus statewide as well as 37 additional deaths.