As Indiana University continues to try to manage and control COVID-19 on its campuses, the school has now begun to operate its own labs for COVID-19 testing after months of sending tests to a third-party lab for results. The new labs in Bloomington and at the IU School of Medicine on the IUPUI campus will be able to provide analysis.
The university says they will be able to complete 35,000 tests per week with the goal of doing 15,000 per day.
“We know the mitigation testing we’ve been doing on all IU campuses is a key piece of keeping cases low in our campus communities and maintaining the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Aaron Carroll, director of mitigation testing, and professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. “With these new labs, I’m excited to be able to further enhance our mitigation testing with more frequency and including a larger number of people in each week’s sample group.”
IU School of Medicine faculty Aaron Ermel and Gail Vance, along with with IU Bloomington faculty member Craig Pikaard, oversee the labs, where trained staff work to analyze the mitigation tests completed on IU campuses each week. The school uses liquid handling robots to process the saliva samples, and from those samples the lab tests determine if the virus is in the sample.
“As we begin processing these tests at the university, our students, faculty and staff will notice much faster turnaround times for test results — likely 24 hours or less,” Carroll said.
IU campuses will shift from Vault, which is the former lab used by the school, to using only the IU labs. The school says tests from Bloomington are beginning to be analyzed in the new labs now, with IUPUI and regional campus tests coming soon. IU says the labs are currently focusing on mitigation testing, but may also perform close contact testing, rapid testing and possibly symptomatic testing in the next few months.