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ISU’s governing board to consider spending millions on COVID testing lab, extra quarantine space

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NORMAL (WEEK) - Illinois State University's governing board is being asked to approve a multi-million dollar contract for a campus lab to process COVID-19 saliva tests, while administrators are also seeking the board's approval to use local hotel space to quarantine students in case of a coronavirus surge.

The university's Board of Trustees, meeting Friday morning, will be asked to enter into a seven-month contract costing up to $5.5 million for a lab to process saliva-based tests developed by the Shield team at the University of Illinois.

The money would pay for up to 275,000 COVID tests from early November to mid-May, or about 13,000 tests a week, to be administered to students, faculty, and staff at multiple on-campus sites. The cost per test is $20, but the contract won't take effect until the saliva-based tests receive FDA approval.

In what administrators said was a "proactive" step, ISU would reserve hotel space for students living in residence halls and were in close contact with people who have the virus.

ISU has allotted five percent of its dorm rooms as isolation spaces, but administrators are asking the board's permission to enter into contracts with two Bloomington-Normal hotels for extra quarantine space.

The university would spend a maximum $1.6 million for the hotels to provide up to 94 rooms, and provide meals for students who have to be isolated for two weeks.

Howard Packowitz

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