BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – As colleges and universities across the country take steps to test thousands of COVID-19 samples each week, Indiana University will soon open its own COVID-19 testing labs.
Experts say widespread testing might be the key to preventing a COVID-19 outbreak on campus.
As students at IUPUI, Sophia Zavala and Lizbeth Hermandez have had already a total of 10 COVID tests.
“It makes the community safer,” said Zavala.
And with new testing labs coming to campus, they’re set to get many more.
“School is hard and especially during a pandemic,” said Hermandez. “I think they’ve done a great job.”
IU will soon operate three of its own COVID-19 testing labs, one in Bloomington and two in Indianapolis. As the director of surveillance and mitigation, Aaron Carroll calls it a critical step.
“Once we get the labs going and working, we’ll likely ramp up our IUPUI and Bloomington testing,” said Carroll during the weekly Keeping us Healthy webinar for IU students and staff.
The testing sites will track and process thousands of results for students and staff. The goal is 5,000 tests per day to start. IU is covering the cost.
“What matters more is how many people you can test, how often you can test them and how quickly you can get the results back,” explained Carroll, “It’s our hope with the labs coming online all three of those will go up.”
“Universities that tested every student weekly have about 90% less infections,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Dr. Birx has praised universities for their aggressive testing strategies.
“With weekly testing and finding that symptomatic individual, they’ve been able to really prevent ongoing spread,” she added.
For IU, the hope is the new labs will make the testing process faster as the Indiana surge continues.
“Given again that it’s winter and everybody is going to be inside, flu season is coming, we’re seeing Indiana head the wrong direction. Those are all good reasons to double down on our efforts and make sure we’re keeping everyone safe as possible,” said Carroll.
When students leave for break and come back next semester, the university expects to ramp up testing. The Indianapolis testing sites are expected to be open in the next few weeks.