“Contract labs are charging people,” she said. “We still have the cost of the (testing), and we still have the cost of personnel, but we're bringing it in-house. We can bring down costs by kind of doing it ourselves is my understanding.”
Pettifor said this testing would be as accurate as testing using outside vendors.
“My understanding is they're looking into the same kind of (testing) that's being done,” she said. “They're still hoping that it can give a result in 24 hours.”
The University’s ability to bring testing in-house is dependent upon getting the right resources before spring semester, Pettifor said.
“I know that they’re talking right now with the testing group and are looking to suppliers to get a PCR machine here,” Pettifor said. “They know that if classes are starting on Jan. 19, this has to be ready and operational before the end of the year. So, I think they're working to try and get the machine, work out the personnel and work out all the systems so that it could be operational.”
First-year student Kate Bryan, an Asian studies major, said she thinks the switch to University-reliant testing will enable the University to implement more widespread testing.
“I think that the decrease in the cost of testing is great since it will increase the incentive to test people,” Bryan said. “Claims that it is not financially responsible to test someone who is asymptomatic will be invalidated.”
Pettifor said this might also make reporting results more seamless.
“We won't have as much confusion around reporting results, for example, because it will be here at UNC," she said. "So we then just report results back to students."
While Blouin’s comment is not final, the University plans to announce revised testing and reopening plans soon.
“We are evaluating, with guidance from public health experts and state and local health departments, options for re-entry and evaluation testing based on the success of the student evaluation testing we are offering for students now,” Minton said in the email. “The University expects to announce more details very soon.”