University of Illinois gets approval from FDA to use COVID-19 rapid saliva test on campus

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday that the University of Illinois has received emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to run a saliva based test created at the University of Urbana-Champaign lab.

Pritzker said the innovative test puts Illinois on cutting edge on testing innovation as a national player, saying the new saliva test is inexpensive, faster, and requires less raw materials than traditional testing.

U of I President Timothy Killeen and Chancellor Robert Jones said students at U of I will undergo biweekly tests using the system, which is being developed to be used on a large scale nationwide.

Jones said they were able to test 10,000 faculty and staff on Monday alone. “It’s not often we see a scientific breakthrough right before your eyes,” he said.

Professor Martin Burke said in July, faculty, staff and students were part of a test run of the program, and results were available within 3-6 hours.

Burke said U of I can run up to 20,000 tests per day at a cost of $10 per test.

He added the new testing could help schools re-open as a competing study at Yale helped the NBA restart season.

Coronavirus infections in Illinois are growing, and Pritzker warns that further mitigation efforts may be necessary to save lives.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 2,295 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 25 additional confirmed deaths. The new case numbers are the highest-single day increase the state has seen since May 24th.

Across the state, Pritzker said the 11 Restore Illinois regions are trending in different directions, the majority of which are heading in the wrong direction, the Governor said.

As of yesterday, Region 4 is operating under stricter guidelines after surpassing 8% testing positivity rate for 3 days in a row, and the region now stands at a 9.4% positivity rate.

Pritzker said Regions 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, and 11 have seen an increase in positivity rate since last week, with only 1 (which includes Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, Carroll, Whiteside, Jo Daviess, and Lee counties), 5, and 6 seeing a slight decrease.

A return to mitigation efforts will be put in place when the positivity rate rises 7 out of 10 days , Pritzker warned. This could involve closing indoor service for restaurants and bars, and limiting gatherings of people.

“Your health and safety is my paramount concern,” Pritzker said.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the nationwide positivity rate has gone down, in the state it has increased over the last four weeks.

She encouraged residents to go for walks, and get flu shots as early as possible. “We have not seen what flu and COVID illness looks like together and I’m sure we don’t want to.”

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