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UW-Madison to use rapid COVID-19 tests in coming days

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COVID-19 testing for the coronavirus. File photo.
COVID-19 testing for the coronavirus. File photo.

MADISON (WKOW) -- UW-Madison will use rapid surveillance tests as a way to quickly locate and isolate people who are infected with COVID-19.

University researchers, including Dave O'Connor, have been developing the test since March. O'Connor says this test can't diagnose if someone is infected but it can identify people who have a high chance of having the virus.

"This is not a diagnostic test," he said. "You'll be able to identify the people who are at greatest risk of being contagious and take them out of circulation."

Unlike diagnostic COVID-19 test results, which can sometimes take up to 72 hours, O'Connor said this test can often give same-day results.

"You shave off precious hours, and in some cases days, between the time someone provides a sample that is positive for the virus and the time they find out they are potentially infected," he said.

O'Connor said these tests could be particularly useful in environments where people live in close contact with each other, like dorms and fraternity and sorority houses.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said Tuesday the university will start using these tests within the next week in "areas of concern to quickly identify and isolate those individuals who may be infectious."

A university spokesperson told 27 News many details—like who will be tested, where testing will take place and if both students and faculty will be tested—are still being finalized.

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Caroline Dade

Reporter/Multimedia Journalist, 27 News

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