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Saliva-based COVID-19 Testing Coming Soon for Area Group Settings

SHIELD Illinois Graphic

A new saliva-based COVID-19 test will be available in the Rockford area early in 2021, a delay from the previously expected October 2020 date.

The test was developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will be offered under the name SHIELD Illinois through a partnership with the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford, which will conduct the laboratory tests in the Rockford area.

The new SHIELD Illinois test provides

  • easier sample submission – just drool in a tube
  • quicker results – turnaround time is 6-12 hours, not days
  • and a lower cost – less than a third of the cost of current swab tests

Through cost and speed advantages, saliva tests can increase access to COVID-19 testing and control spread by pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers.

“This is a game-changer for COVID-19 testing,” says Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green, dean of the College of Medicine Rockford. “We expect by late October to have a testing laboratory operational that will be able to provide same-day results in most cases.”

The new laboratory is part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the hiring process is underway for laboratory staff who will conduct the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and manage lab operations.

The innovative technology and process underlying SHIELD will allow the state to shift away from a defensive symptom-based strategy to a proactive surveillance-based strategy.

SHIELD Illinois hopes to expand the testing to local organizations and businesses who want to screen their employees, students or members to control the spread of COVID-19 in their organizations.

Dean Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MHPE, MHA, is working with area businesses and organizations who are interested in setting up testing for their site. If your business would like more information, email

Swab-based Testing on Campus to Continue

To be clear, the Illinois Public Health Department’s community-based COVID-19 testing center that uses swabs that is located at the UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford is expected to continue operation likely through November for individuals. It is not affiliated with UIC or the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Edited to reflect revised expected date for the laboratory to be operational.