September 21, 2020 In the News

UNH COVID-19 testing program looks to expand its reach

Union Leader
By Kimberley Haas
September 21, 2020

With the capacity to process about 25,000 COVID-19 tests per week, officials at the University of New Hampshire are hoping to expand their program to help private businesses and public schools in the state.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, got a chance Monday to see the work being conducted at the lab at UNH Health & Wellness.

“We think they’re the only university in the country who has got this kind of program, doing about 25,000 tests a week, allowing the students to do their own self-tests and bringing them here for analysis, and it is making a huge difference in terms of allowing the students to be on campus,” Shaheen said during a news conference after her tour.

Shaheen said that with the right resources, UNH has the potential to be a leader in testing for private businesses and public schools.

Marc Sedam, vice provost for innovation and new ventures, said the university is working to get those resources into place.

It cost about $5 million to set up the lab at UNH and the testing is an additional cost. UNH is using a portion of the $14 million in CARES Act funding it received to cover the expenses.

Between Sept. 14 and 20, there were 29 positive test results in the Durham campus community. That included students, faculty and staff.

At UNH Law in Concord, there was one positive test result.

As of Sunday, there were 14 students in isolation and 81 students in quarantine within the University of New Hampshire system.

Gerri Taylor, co-chair of the American College Health Association’s COVID-19 Task Force, said on Friday that frequent testing of students is key to ensure campuses stay safe this academic year.

“I think the more frequently you test, the better, because you pick up those positive cases earlier,” Taylor said.

At UNH in Durham, students are tested every four days. They drop off their samples at one of 10 drop boxes and those tests are picked up six times a day.