UNH is building COVID labs

Keene State could be sending testing samples to Manchester by the spring semester

Griffin Ell / Art Director

The University of New Hampshire is building two labs for analyzing COVID-19 testing samples.

One of these labs will be located in Durham, while the other will be in Manchester.

Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell said the current plan is that Keene State College and Plymouth State University will be sending their COVID-19 testing samples to the Manchester lab by January, at the start of the spring semester.

President Treadwell previously said that the University System of New Hampshire’s funding for reopening came from NH Governor Chris Sununu through the CARES Act. According to President Treadwell, the governor gave the University System of New Hampshire $19.5 million in funding for COVID-19 testing. She said that between $11-12 million of that funding is being devoted to UNH’s labs.

After recently announcing that the Keene State community will have to be tested weekly for the fall semester and with plans to continue this into the spring, President Treadwell added that sending the college’s testing samples to UNH for analysis will be significantly cheaper than Keene State’s commercial contract with Quest Diagnostics. Through Quest, it costs $120 to test each sample, but Treadwell said that through UNH, it will cost somewhere between $20-40 dollars, although that figure is not final.

“We need this because there’s a possibility that we will be continuing our sampling in the fall of 2021,” Treadwell said. “I am 60 percent sure we will still be testing by then. I hope we have a vaccine by then, but we need this just in case we don’t.”

President Treadwell added that even though the cost will be significantly cheaper through UNH, the process will be completed with the same level of accuracy as with the more expensive Quest option. The process will also be completed in a more timely manner as well. According to President Treadwell, Keene State will receive its test results from UNH within 24-48 hours as opposed to the previous three-to-five day time frame with Quest Diagnostics.

Although the college is planning to switch over to UNH for sampling, President Treadwell said that Keene State has extended its contract with Quest Diagnostics into the spring semester in case the UNH labs are not ready to receive samples.

“Until we know we can jump over [to UNH], we will keep doing what we’re doing with Quest,” Treadwell said.

University of New Hampshire Senior Vice Provost Marian McCord was unable to be reached for comment.

 

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