February 18, 2022

Duckworth, Schneider Visit SHIELD Illinois Lab to Highlight Commitment to Increasing Testing Accessibility for Illinoisans


[NORTH CHICAGO, IL] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) today met with University of Illinois System and SHIELD Illinois officials to discuss the importance of continued widespread and equitable COVID-19 testing. In 2020, scientists from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed this saliva-based PCR COVID-19 test. SHIELD Illinois is a nonprofit enterprise that makes the test available throughout the state. Photos from today’s tour are available here.

“During today’s tour, I was proud to witness firsthand the innovation and resilience of Illinoisans in response to the ongoing pandemic,” Duckworth said. “The creation of this test and the SHIELD Illinois initiative are examples of meeting the moment, and I will continue my work to help ensure widespread, accessible testing at our K-12 schools and within our communities.”

“Lake County, Illinois is the home of the nation's life sciences corridor. The SHIELD program has become an essential piece of Illinois’s fight against COVID, providing quality, affordable testing for 70 percent of our college students, and 29 school districts in my Congressional district alone.” Schneider said. “I was thrilled to review the program with Senator Duckworth today at Rosalind Franklin.”

“We greatly appreciate Sen. Duckworth and Rep. Schneider’s continued support of SHIELD Illinois and our ongoing work to increase access to our highly accurate, reliable COVID-19 test,” said SHIELD Illinois Managing Director Ron Watkins. “Federal funding has been crucial to our ability to provide testing at nearly 1,800 K-12 schools, colleges, universities, companies, government agencies, and free community testing sites across Illinois.”

In September of 2020, Duckworth led the Illinois Congressional Delegation in calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use federal resources to support the expansion of SHIELD testing. SHIELD testing was developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and requires only a small amount of saliva from an individual and provides results within 24 hours. This PCR test process uses fewer steps and components than many other processes, helping avoid supply chain shortages.