Illinois pledges $225M to expand COVID-19 testing at middle and high schools

Illinois health officials announced Wednesday a new $225 million investment to increase access to COVID-19 testing at middle and high schools across the state.

The covidSHIELD saliva-based test was developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and can detect coronavirus even in people who aren't showing symptoms.

"For in-person learning to occur, we need to help make schools as safe as possible for students, teachers, and staff," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. "To help prevent an outbreak, it is important to identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.  Having testing readily available in schools can make it easier for more students to be tested and cases identified quicker."

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Test results are available within 12-24 hours after reaching the lab.

The covidSHIELD tests will be offered for free at schools that are pre-dominantly low-income and show high rates of infection.

The state's investment comes as an expansion of services being offered at Illinois public universities and community colleges.