Binghamton University and SUNY Broome Community College Launch Pooled Surveillance Testing for COVID-19 for Employees

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From SUNY:

Binghamton, NY – Today, pooled surveillance testing began for employees at both Binghamton University and SUNY Broome Community College. During visits to both campuses, Chancellor Malatras praised the schools for their aggressive testing approach and students’ widespread compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols. Prior to today, the campuses have conducted more than 8,000 COVID-19 tests and wastewater testing with a low positive rate.

“The expansion of pooled surveillance testing for staff at Binghamton University and SUNY Broome adds yet another critical layer to both schools’ aggressive COVID-19 mitigation and response plans,” said Chancellor Malatras. “Regular pooled surveillance testing will allow both schools to better pinpoint the presence of the virus and isolate it before it can spread. With very few COVID-19 cases to date, Binghamton University and SUNY Broome exemplify what strong planning and implementation can accomplish. Their success so far provides both evidence and optimism that if we all work together we can keep students learning on our campuses. I want to thank Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger and SUNY Broome President Kevin Drumm for their work with testing and enforcement, as well as every student who rose to the challenge during this unprecedented time. We must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to contain the virus, but if we keep up the good work, we will.”

Binghamton President Harvey G. Stenger, Jr. said, “We were thrilled to welcome Chancellor Malatras to campus today to show him how successful Binghamton has been in restarting and keeping students on track to help achieve their academic goals. It’s taken the brain power and hard work of countless staff, faculty, students, and volunteers, and we are beyond pleased that our efforts are paying off. We look forward to completing this semester and we appreciate his support.”

SUNY Broome Community College President Kevin E. Drumm said, “SUNY Broome was honored to host our new Chancellor in a review of campus operations within the context of our COVID environment. We thank Chancellor Malatras for making the trip to visit us and also for listening to how SUNY can help us going forward. We look forward to working with him on advancing both SUNY Broome’s and SUNY’S interests.”

Binghamton Mayor Richard C. David said, “In Binghamton, we’re thankful that Chancellor Malatras is taking a boots on the ground approach and seeing directly how Binghamton University, SUNY Broome, and the community are working to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The successes so far on our local campuses with testing and compliance is due in large part to the leadership of Chancellor Malatras, President Stenger, and President Drumm.”

Assembly Member Donna Lupardo said, “I appreciate the new SUNY Chancellor visiting Binghamton University and SUNY Broome today. Chancellor Malatras is building relationships while assuring communities that he is an active partner, not only in the COVID response, but in the academic endeavor as well. I’ve known Jim for many years throughout his various roles in state government, and his commitment and hard work are on display as he visits each SUNY campus. I’m looking forward to working with the Chancellor to advance the SUNY mission in the years to come.”

Robust testing—along with enhanced safety guideline enforcement and transparent, real-time data via SUNY’s system-wide case tracker—comprise SUNY’s three-pronged approach to containing the virus.

Binghamton University and SUNY Broome Community College are able to ramp up testing following a series of major breakthroughs in testing driven by SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Last month, the New York State Department of Health granted SUNY approval to conduct pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19. The testing methodology—developed by Upstate Medical—allows for 10-25 people to be screened as part of one test. Their samples are combined into one, which is tested for SARS-CoV-2 virus. A negative test means that all 10-25 people in the group are presumed at the time to be coronavirus-free. A positive test for the pool would mean each individual saliva sample within the pool would need to be tested again individually to pinpoint exact positive cases.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health approved Upstate Medical’s individual saliva diagnostic test. The cost-effective and rapid screening can analyze more than 15,000 samples per day at Upstate Medical’s Neuroscience Research Building, in collaboration with Quadrant Biosciences—a Start-Up NY company supported by the state with key tax incentives.

The University at Albany is also administering an in-house pooled surveillance testing program developed collaboratively by a team of scientists from UAlbany’s RNA Institute and School of Public Health.

Thanks to these advancements, SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities have the capacity to pool test more than 120,000 students per week.  

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