COVID-19 Testing on Campus

Testing is essential to confirm infection in cases and contacts, guide patient care and inform our understanding of disease transmission dynamics.

The University of Illinois SHIELD COVID-19 test is available to NEIU students, faculty, staff and community members four days a week through June 2022 on the Main Campus. Testing is also available for NEIU students, faculty and staff at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies and El Centro.  

The SHIELD test is saliva-based and non-invasive. It does not require medically trained personnel to administer. The saliva test has a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 99%, with very few false positives. High specificity combined with frequent testing makes the SHIELD saliva-based test extremely accurate.

hours of operation (updated APRIL 12, 2022)

Main Campus

Testing currently takes place in the space previously occupied by the bookstore in the Student Union (Building E, across from the Welcome Desk) on the following days:

  • 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Wednesdays
  • 2-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays

Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies (CCICS)

CCICS is located at 700 E. Oakwood Blvd. Enter through north entrance doors of the building off of the parking lot. Parking is available on the street. Testing will take place in the Lower Level Conference Room on the following days: 

  • 1-3 p.m. Fridays

El Centro

El Centro is located at 3390 N. Avondale Ave. Parking is available on the street or in the El Centro lot with an NEIU campus parking permit.Testing will take in Community Room 110 on the following days:

  • 2-5 p.m. Wednesdays

Scheduling an appointment

In order to get tested, individuals need to create an account on the SHIELD portal and schedule their test appointment. Please use the Agency Code 8e42aoeh to create your one-time portal account. Complete your registration and submit. You will receive a special code via text and email to confirm your identity. Enter that code as indicated. Walk-ins will be accommodated if appointments are available, but must still register through the online portal upon arrival.

Testing instructions

Please bring a photo ID and the QR code that was sent when your appointment was confirmed. Individuals should not eat, drink (including water), chew gum, smoke or use tobacco products within 60 minutes of providing a saliva sample. Doing any of these things within 60 minutes of providing a sample could produce an inconclusive result and require the individual to re-test. Test results will be posted in the patient portal after the lab results are completed.

Molecular and antigen tests

A masked and gloved health worker prepares to swab test a patient

Molecular Tests

Molecular tests, also known as NAATs, detect the virus and can be used to diagnose active (acute) infection. NAATs detect one or more viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) genes from the COVID-19 virus. Types of molecular tests are reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and isothermal amplification.  Most NAATs need to be processed in a laboratory, and time to results can vary from 1-3 days, typically.

Antigen Tests

Antigen tests, also known as lateral flow or rapid test, detect proteins on the surface of the virus. Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen. Antigen tests generally have similar specificity, but are less sensitive than most NAATs. Results can be obtained in as soon as 15 minutes using this method.  PCR tests are generally preferred as antigen tests generally have lower sensitivity and, therefore, a greater risk for returning false-negative results.

Do COVID-19 tests check for the omicron, delta and other variants?

Currently, COVID-19 tests are designed and authorized to check broadly for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and not for specific variants, sometimes called SARS-CoV-2 viral mutations or genetic mutations. It is common for all viruses to change and mutate over time, resulting in different virus strains. There are no authorized COVID-19 tests that specifically report the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron, delta, or other variants, in patient samples.

Molecular tests are used for detection of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in people with symptoms:

  • For clinical care and guiding isolation protocols
  • For disease surveillance and contact tracing
  • For identifying potentially exposed healthcare personnel, including first responders, showing mild signs and symptoms. This helps prevent potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) to patients or other healthcare workers

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in people without symptoms:

  • Asymptomatic shedding of the virus may be detected with a molecular test or an antigen test. This can help identify carriers of COVID-19 and prevent spread

Serological Tests

Hands wearing blue gloves hold another persons finger to take a blood sample

Serology tests don’t directly detect the virus but instead measure antibodies to the virus that are present in the blood. Antibody tests can provide evidence of current or previous infection, because they indicate that the body produced an immune response to the virus. It can take over a week for antibodies to form following infection. Antibody tests are generally not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool for confirming acute infection, except in unusual circumstances.

At this time, it is not clear whether antibodies are protective, for how long, and at what level. Given the high likelihood of false-positive tests in a population with low antibody prevalence, antibody test results should be interpreted cautiously. Many of the antibody tests are not FDA approved. If you do undertake serological testing, ask that only FDA approved tests be utilized.

Testing Resources

The first step in determining whether a test is advised is to contact your primary care provider (PCP). If you do not have insurance or a PCP, testing is still available. Here are some recommended resources:

Rapid testing is available on a fee-for-service basis from Physicians Immediate Care.