University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discusses plans for Covid-19 testing

July 1, 2020
The university has developed an app to help people track if they have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hopes to test its students, faculty and staff for Covid-19 using a saliva-based test at 20 locations across campus.

The Champaign News-Gazette reports that the entire campus community would be tested when they return to campus and again three to four days later to confirm the original result.

“With the saliva-based testing, this actually becomes very practical and easy to do,” said Marty Burke, associate dean for research at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

The university, through its Rokwire open source software initiative, also has developed an exposure notification app that will enable people to be notified if they’ve been near someone who tested positive for the virus.

"Students can monitor their symptoms, get recommendations for next steps, find testing locations, and securely receive test results," according to the Rokwire website. "If necessary, a healthcare professional is a single click away. The application is 'opt-in' and lets users decide what data they want to share, and when."

The app uses Bluetooth to detect random codes from nearby phones to notify someone if they may have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

The app will also enable users to upload test results and report symptoms, and would give them a color code assigned by the local health department indicating their risk.

Among the features that are part of the app:

  • COVID-19 symptom checker

  • Recommended next steps based on symptoms or test results

  • Automatic receipt of test results from healthcare providers or option to enter them manually

  • Private exposure notifications to the people potentially exposed during the prior 14 days

  • Health status updates from the County Health Department

  • Connection to a dedicated Pandemic Health Worker network

  • COVID-19 campus news and information

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