New COVID-19 detection initiative in NYS wastewater, SUNY approved for surveillance testing

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In this May 2020 photo provided by Eli Lilly, a researcher tests possible COVID-19 antibodies in a laboratory in Indianapolis. Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated. (David Morrison/Eli Lilly via AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — New York State will implement a new series of initiatives to enhance COVID-19 testing.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of new initiatives related to COVID-19 testing that will improve detection and control of the virus in New York communities.  

The launch of a new pilot program will detect the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater, designed to forecast virus spread in communities. $500,000 will support initial wastewater sampling in Onondaga County and start sample collection in Albany, Newburgh and Buffalo.  

Additionally, the State University of New York has been approved by the New York State Department of Health to complete pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19. The method will use numerous samples to run as part of one test.

SUNY’s pooled testing approach was developed and validated by SUNY Upstate Medical University’s laboratory. SUNY Upstate will be able to conduct at least 12,000 more daily tests as a result of this innovative approach.  

“As New Yorkers remain vigilant in stopping the spread and our communities cautiously reopen, we continue to aggressively focus on testing in order to detect and control any new coronavirus outbreaks,” Governor Cuomo said. “These new testing initiatives, analyzing wastewater for COVID, deploying mobile testing teams to address clusters at farms, and investing in new capacity using pooled testing, will be a critical part of our state’s efforts to test, trace and isolate – and defeat the virus.” 

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