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IU's In-House COVID-19 Lab Could Handle Up To 70,000 Tests Per Week

Agilent Bravo robot in the Covid-19 testing lab on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.

Agilent Bravo robot in the Covid-19 testing lab on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Courtesy of Indiana University)

The addition of Pandemic Response Laboratories on IU campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis has given Indiana University more testing capability than it had when COVID-19 began.

IU President Michael McRobbie said the labs will help IU control the virus by increasing the number of tests that can be done.

“When you can increase the number of tests, you increase your chances of finding people,” he said. “The sooner you get those people out of circulation the better.”

The university initially used a third-party lab to analyze test results. During the first semester, IU built up to being capable of regularly testing about 12,000 students a week. Those who tested positive went into isolation; those exposed to someone who tested positive went into quarantine.

READ MORE: Here's Where You Can Get Tested For COVID-19 In Monroe County

McRobbie said the in-house testing will allow IU to test half the on-campus population weekly by the time students are back for spring semester. The testing sites have five robotic testing devices and will add a sixth. McRobbie said by adding extra shifts and extra hours to testing procedures, the university could get to as many as 70,000 tests a week.

In addition, in-house testing is less expensive.

McRobbie said the cost of sending tests to a third party is about 10 times more than in-house analysis.

Voluntary free tests were available to students leaving for Thanksgiving break. Students will return to comprehensive testing. And once students are back, classes will run straight through until school is out.

"The worst thing in the world we could do is have a spring break, send them all off to the beach to get infected,” McRobbie said.

Second semester will start online, with in-person classes beginning on Feb. 8. The semester is scheduled to end on May 7.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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