UNH Covid Lab recieves $4 million grant


Benjamin Domaingue

Gov. Chris Sununu announced a $4 million investment into the University System of New Hampshire’s (UNH) COVID-19 testing infrastructure.  

“We are grateful to the governor’s office and our congressional delegation for their support of this work with funding from GOFERR (Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief & Recovery)  and the CARES Act,” said Marian McCord, senior vice provost for research, economic engagement and outreach, and co-chair of the UNH Testing and Tracing Committee in a press release.

This announcement comes days after New Hampshire reported a previous single-day record high of 1,187 infections.  

In late December, UNH began partnering with nearly 30 long-term care facilities and shelters to provide COVID-19 testing. So far, the lab has processed over 3,000 tests in addition to the university’s winter break testing program. 

UNH estimates the lab will soon have the capacity to process over 6,000 samples per week for the state, in addition to the nearly 4,000 samples processed per day for the University community during the semester.  

UNH targets its sample turnaround at about 48 hours, well within the three-day target for effective contact-tracing, according to a recent study in The Lancet.  

UNH continues to work with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to assist in contact tracing.  

“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,” said DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette.

UNH’s in-house COVID-19 lab has been hailed as a model for other colleges and universities in the United States. In an interview with The New Hampshire, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said she was “very impressed with the state of the art lab.”   

Shaheen also noted UNH’s ability to “expand the testing if they partner with other places.” 

UNH has used its COVID-19 lab as a primary means of surveillance for the virus, as well as testing wastewater to track potential infection hot-spots.  

UNH began testing students twice a week at the start of its fall 2020 semester, and has continued to test students on the Seacoast during its winter break. UNH plans to continue testing students twice a week for its spring 2021 semester, beginning Feb. 1.  

UNH continues to report daily COVID-19 test results online as well. As of UNH’s latest report on Jan. 15, its lab detected 32 positive cases within the last seven days.  

The Governor’s Office and the University of New Hampshire have not responded to The New Hampshire for comment by time of publishing.  

Photo Courtesy of UNH