SUNY schools increases free, mandatory COVID testing for students, commuters, and employees

STONY BROOK, New York (WABC) -- State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras visited SUNY Stony Brook University and Farmingdale State College to meet with their presidents to discuss how each campus is working to contain the COVID virus.

Every two weeks 4,700 Stony Brook University students living on campus have to get a COVID test.

They get the results in 48 hours.

Next week all 1,500 commuter students will have to take the rapid saliva test which was developed by SUNY Upstate Medical University and just approved by the FDA for use nationwide.

"Right here on Long Island you're seeing a perfect example of how it's done right," SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said.

Chancellor Malatras visited Stony Brook's campus Thursday to see what the school is doing to keep its infection rate so low despite having thousands of people living on campus.

Earlier this month, SUNY Oneonta shut down its campus and sent students home after hundreds of students came down with the coronavirus.

"The first thing that we mandated was no student could leave without being COVID-free. We are hearing reports that maybe that wasn't done in every case, so we're going to have an after-action report of course on that," Malatras said.

There have been only 27 cases on Stony Brook's campus. Administrators give a lot of the credit to the students themselves. If you walk around here, every single student is wearing a mask.

"You don't really see anyone, even if they're walking by themselves they have their mask on, it's just like a thing that everyone on campus has to have it, no matter where you are," said Lindsey Osmer, a student. "Even when you leave your room, just in the hallway, when you go to the bathroom, you always have it on."

"Our students really want to be here and they understand what they do has a direct positive impact on their peers and all of us at Stony Brook," said Maurie McInnis, Stony Brook University.

Also Thursday, Malatras and Civil Service Employees Association President Mary E. Sullivan announced an agreement to conduct free, mandatory testing for CSEA-represented employees at SUNY state-operated colleges, universities, and hospitals.

The agreement comes on the heels of a similar deal struck last week that requires mandatory COVID-19 testing for all employees represented by United University Professions (UUP).

"Testing employees is crucial to protecting the health and safety of our campus communities and avoiding major outbreaks," said Chancellor Malatras. "SUNY's CSEA workforce have been on the frontlines of the COVID crisis from the very beginning, doing everything from keeping our facilities clean to getting students their meals safely-work that is fundamental to keeping our campuses open during this challenging time. They deserve access to the same testing being offered to students and faculty members. I want to thank President Sullivan and the entire CSEA membership for all that they do. Thanks to groundbreaking advancements at Upstate Medical-and a close partnership with CSEA-SUNY can now provide employees the regular testing they deserve."

"SUNY currently has the capacity to process 120,000 test samples per week thanks to major testing breakthroughs at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Their now FDA-approved individual saliva test, done in tandem with aggressive pooled surveillance testing, allows colleges to quickly and accurately pinpoint and contain the virus and prevent outbreaks," Sullivan said.

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