Free COVID-19 testing site opens at DePaul’s Loop campus

Free COVID-19 testing site opens at DePaul’s Loop campus
·2 min read

A new free COVID-19 testing site opened Tuesday at DePaul’s Loop campus.

The University of Illinois System’s nonprofit COVID-19 testing unit, called SHIELD Illinois, partnered with DePaul University and the Chicago Department of Public Health to set up the testing site, according to a news release from the University of Illinois System.

The testing site, on the concourse level of the DePaul Center at 333 S. State St., will be open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

Shield Illinois now has 24 testing sites statewide. DePaul’s Loop campus partnership marks the nonprofit’s third testing site in Chicago. The other two are at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse and Northeastern University, according to the release.

With the opening of the DePaul University Loop testing site, a record number of 64,000 COVID-19 tests were processed on Tuesday, surpassing the Shield Illinois daily record of 52,177.

The number of tests processed Tuesday surpassed the number of tests processed in the entire month of June, according to the release.

The three Chicago testing sites are funded through agreements with CDPH and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

These testing sites are part of a larger effort in the city.

Last week, the University of Illinois at Chicago opened a lab that can process on average 55,000 covidSHIELD tests per week.

The covidSHIELD test was developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Even before symptoms become noticeable, the saliva-based test can detect the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, including the delta and omicron variants, according to the release.

The lab will serve schools, businesses and community testing sites like the one at DePaul’s Loop campus.

Shield Illinois has labs that can produce COVID-19 test results within 24 hours, according officials.

With the new addition, Shield Illinois has the capacity to process up to 400,000 saliva-based and PCR tests per week.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, Shield Illinois has processed more than 3 million COVID-19 tests.

Timothy Killeen, president of the U. of I. System, said the university is proud to have developed a test that is protecting people across Illinois and beyond.

“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,” Killeen said.

Shield Illinois has testing agreements with 1,706 K-12 schools, 57 community colleges, 24 community testing sites, and multiple businesses and government agencies, including the Illinois General Assembly.

Ron Watkins, managing director of Shield Illinois, said half of the positive samples the nonprofit has found during the life of the program have come since Jan. 1.

“What we’re experiencing is unprecedented, but we’re ready for it,” Watkins said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the location of the testing site.

tatturner@chicagotribune.com

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