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Easier, faster saliva COVID-19 testing coming to Rockford

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — When you take a COVID-19 test, it could take days to get your results. But soon, your results will be available in a matter of hours.

The days of getting a Q-tip swab up your nose to test for COVID-19 could be over.

Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green, the Dean of the College of Medicine in Rockford, says he believes the future of COVID testing is a saliva-based test.

"What you would do is, you would take a test tube — I hate to use the word drool, but you'd literally drool into it," Dr. Stagnaro-Green says with a laugh.

He explains the test is faster.

"Four to six hours we get the response," Dr. Stagnaro-Green says.

It's also cheaper.

"This test, for corporations, will be around $30 and for school systems it could be low as $20," he says.

But there is a catch. This test is designed to detect people who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, not people who already exhibit symptoms of the virus.

Dr. Stagnaro-Green says if you're sick you're better off doing the nasopharyngeal test, better known as the Q-tip swab. But he says even so, this test is a game-changer for any place that's considered a congregate setting.

"Let's say, corporation 'x' wants to use it and they have 200 employees, they could test their employees twice a week and anyone that comes out positive, they can then pull that individual out of their community and they don't have a spread within that setting," Dr. Stagnero-Green explains.

Schools, he says, can be kept safer because teachers could be tested weekly.

The test is expected to be in the stateline in six to eight weeks, however, not everyone can get one. For now, it'll only be offered at the College of Medicine in Rockford and specifically geared towards businesses or schools with large groups of people. But the hope is it will be available to the public soon.

Dr. Stagnaro-Green says other hospitals in the area could become partners and have their specimens tested at the College of Medicine's lab.

13 WREX reached out to SwedishAmerican Hospital and Mercyhealth.

A representative for SwedishAmerican said the hospital has yet to consider the saliva test. Dr. John Dorsey, the Chief Medical Officer for Mercyhealth released a statement to us saying: "The testing option is very promising and we’re looking in to it. We have to evaluate more details before committing to it."

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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