First Installment of Pooled Surveillance Testing Yields No New Cases
The first installment of pooled surveillance testing of on-campus SUNY Plattsburgh students for COVID-19 yielded zero positive cases. The results were returned from SUNY Upstate Medical University Friday, Sept. 4 from the 449 samples taken two days earlier.
There have been no COVID-19 cases associated with the campus since two were reported Aug. 21-22.
“I appreciate all the campus is doing to remain vigilant and follow the Cardinal Pledge,” said President Alexander Enyedi in a message to students, faculty and staff. “It matters to you, your friends and the entire campus and wider community.”
Surveillance pool testing uses a saliva-testing method. Students administer the test themselves by swabbing the inside of their mouth for 10 to 15 seconds and providing the saliva sample to medical personnel. Upstate Medical processes the results.
Pooled testing days for on-campus students will continue. Appointment times will be shared with students soon. The college expects to expand from this initial group of tested students and will outline those details when available.
Testing On Campus
Students filed through lines at a social distance Wednesday, wearing masks at the former Algonquin Dining Hall. The area was set up with testing stations and staffed by members of the Student Health and Counseling Center.
Students entered, presented their IDs and were checked in for their appointment time. They were then handed a sealed swab and were instructed to swab the inside of their cheeks for 15 seconds, being timed by a staff member. That swab was then inserted into a tube, agitated in a solution and then handed off to a preparer.
Preparers, including Dr. Kathleen Camelo, director of the health center, took swabs and added them together in batches of 12 to be shipped to Upstate Medical in Syracuse where they were tested as a cohort of 12.
The pooled testing allows for 10 to 25 people to be screened in one test. Samples are combined into one, which is tested for coronavirus. A negative test means that all 10 to 25 people in the group are presumed at the time to be coronavirus-free. A positive test for the pool would mean further testing is necessary to determine which one or ones are individually positive.
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced pool testing during a visit to campus Aug. 25.
“As SUNY Plattsburgh resumes in-person classes, it is crucial that we have the most advanced and aggressive testing program at our disposal in place,” he said. “By launching pooled surveillance testing, we can run up to 25 samples as part of one test, giving SUNY Plattsburgh the ability to identify, trace, isolate and treat cases much faster and ensure the safety of our students, which is always our Number One priority.”
Earlier this summer, SUNY was approved by the state Department of Health to undertake pooled surveillance testing for COVID-1- — an innovative method where numerous samples can be run as part of one test. That testing is what is being conducted now, on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.
The college continues to update and post COVID-19-related information online plattsburgh.edu/covid-19.