UNH Partners with State to Address Urgent Need for COVID-19 Testing

Monday, January 11, 2021

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DURHAM, N.H.—The University of New Hampshire has partnered with the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide COVID-19 testing for 30 long term care facilities and shelters throughout the state. The expanded testing began in late December and to date more than 3,000 tests have been processed in addition to the university’s ongoing testing of its community.

The UNH COVID Testing Lab is processing samples from staff in long term care facilities as well as staff and residents of shelters. The need for testing at these facilities is identified by DHHS; requests must be made to the state.

“Since the UNH lab opened in August, we have processed more than 300,000 tests and we’re pleased to partner with the state to be able to extend this service to help protect our state’s most vulnerable populations,” said Marian McCord, senior vice provost for research, economic engagement and outreach and co-chair of the UNH Testing and Tracing Committee. “We are grateful to the governor’s office and our congressional delegation for their support of this work with funding from GOFERR and the CARES Act, as well as the university’s investment in and commitment to developing this important capability that is critical to our ability to safely operate and, ultimately, to help support the state.”

The university estimates the lab will have capacity to run approximately 6,000 tests a week to serve this community, as well as the existing testing it will continue to do for the UNH community when the university is back in session and every member of the community is required to participate in regular testing.

Plans are underway now to prioritize testing needs but the lab expects to process up to 1,000 tests a day for the state. CARES Act funds were allocated to support the lab.

“Our ability to protect residents and staff in long term care facilities requires fast turnaround times on lab tests to rapidly identify and isolate new cases inside these facilities,” said DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette. “Due to nationwide increase in community transmission over the past few months, national testing laboratories are seeing increasing demands for testing from around the country. The department’s partnership with the UNH COVID Testing Lab is ensuring faster test results, which helps facilities quickly isolate people testing positive, contain the spread of the virus and protect the health of their residents and staff.”

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation’s highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.