Illinois officials hope testing can control coronavirus on campus

University of Illinois officials expect confirmed cases of the coronavirus to rise as classes begin Monday in Champaign-Urbana

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In this Jan. 27, 2014 photo, students walk between buildings on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana, Ill.

David Mercer/AP File

University of Illinois officials expect confirmed cases of the coronavirus to rise as classes begin Monday in Champaign-Urbana but they hope routine testing and other precautions can keep spread of the virus under control on campus.

Models developed by the university predict a few hundred confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases during the first weeks of the fall semester, officials said in a statement this week.

Saliva testing developed at the school has already been used to test 60,000 staff and students since July.

The saliva test can provide results within hours, and it is free for students and staff. Officials have said they expect to test up to 20,000 students a day and students will be required to be tested twice a week.

The modeling developed by the university suggests that requirement and other precautions can lead to a drop off in new confirmed cases after an initial jump.

“What will determine if we stay together in-person is whether we all can make the personal choices and exercise the very best judgement in these critical early days,” Chancellor Robert Jones said in a message to the campus.

Other necessary precautions include face coverings, hand washing and social distancing, Jones said. He encouraged students and everyone else returning to the campus to do their part to stop the virus from spreading.

“These next 10 or 15 days will define us,” he said.

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