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Distinguished Community Award presented to SHIELD Illinois team in Rockford

Accepting the award were SHIELD Illinois Operations Manager Shiow-Jiau Yung, Lab General Supervisor Jocelyn Carr, Assistant Dean for Operations Carol Schuster, and Collection Site Supervisor Bella Swan.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford presented its 2022 Distinguished Community Award to the SHIELD Illinois COVID-19 Saliva Testing Collection Site and Laboratory at the College of Medicine Rockford.

Each year this award goes to a nominee that enhances the stature or growth of the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford with contributions of a special nature.

SHIELD Illinois is a COVID-19 screening testing program and infrastructure designed to help safely open schools, protect workplaces, and save lives. Using the highly specific and sensitive saliva-based test designed by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers, SHIELD Illinois partnered with the College of Medicine Rockford to open a laboratory on the Rockford campus in early 2021.

The SHIELD Illinois College of Medicine Rockford Laboratory has conducted polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on more than 350,000 saliva samples since the inception. These samples come from 110 unique agencies and 249 unique collection sites located at schools, colleges, universities and other public organizations.

During the Omicron variant’s peak in January 2022, the lab processed as many as 5,000 tests daily with a record high of 18,000 in one week. The lab, staffed by College of Medicine students, scientists and processors, generally reports results within 12 hours of sample receipt.

In addition to providing laboratory services, SHIELD collaborated with the College of Medicine Rockford to open a community testing collection center in May 2021 for the public as well as all students, staff and faculty on campus. This internal testing enabled the UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford to safely and effectively return to in-person work and classes prior to the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. To date, about 55,000 community members have tested at the site.

“SHIELD Illinois at the College of Medicine Rockford gave back to the community by providing the community testing that allowed children to return to school and community members to re-engage with their families, return to work and travel safely as necessary,” said Dean Alex Stagnaro-Green.