Monmouth College has received a grant to help the Monmouth-Warren County community intensify its battle against the COVID-19 virus.
The college has received a $150,000 grant from the Community Health Foundation of Warren and Henderson Counties to purchase 5,000 SHIELD Illinois tests, which the college will help administer to the Monmouth-Warren County community for a nominal fee, a news release says.
COVID-19 testing will begin on campus in January. Once underway, tests will be available two days a week to any organization or individual in Warren County.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, Monmouth College faculty, staff and students have pursued the twin goals of safeguarding each other’s health and delivering our educational experience as effectively as possible,” said Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt. “In the current climate of COVID-19, Monmouth College also realizes our duty to the city of Monmouth and to Warren County to do our part in the mitigation of the virus.”
“The college has long been supported by the local community that appreciates the benefits that a strong academic institution brings to the town and region,” he said. “We are grateful that this broad community support continues to this day, and we are glad this initiative will help mitigate the spread of the virus, especially through peak cold and flu season.”
Because COVID-19 is spread through droplets and aerosols transmitted through person-to-person contact, saliva can be used to test the virus. The innovative saliva-based SHIELD Illinois test is non-invasive and does not require medically trained personnel to collect samples.
At accuracy levels of 99.8-99.9%, with very few false positives, the test matches the accuracy of more invasive and expensive tests. Results from a SHIELD Illinois test are known in about 12 hours after the test is delivered to a laboratory, compared to a two- to three-day wait for most other available tests.
“Ease of administration, the relatively low cost, speed and accuracy make the SHIELD Illinois test much more accessible and practical in helping to control the virus’ spread by identifying pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers,” Wyatt said.
Community Health Foundation of Warren and Henderson Counties Board Chair Dorothy A. Ricketts said the foundation “is pleased to provide funding to assist Monmouth College in implementing the SHIELD Illinois test service.”
“The foundation board recognizes that the initiative will reach many people in our community, and matches the mission of the foundation, which is to maintain, enhance and improve health services available in our area,” said Ricketts.
Wyatt said the testing capacity made possible by the grant will be used by the College for students and employees to prepare for the spring semester, which begins Jan. 25. The college will also be able to provide surveillance testing of the campus community periodically throughout the semester.
“Providing rapid results in the case of a positive test for students or employees will allow Monmouth College to take swift action to reduce the spread of the virus,” Wyatt said. “We hope to identify infected individuals early and save lives by curbing the spread of COVID-19, while reducing productivity loss and prioritizing the wellbeing of our students, employees and members of the Monmouth-Warren County community as a whole.”