UAlbany ramps up COVID-19 testing to prevent community spread

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The SUNY system is requiring all students to have a negative COVID-19 test before they head home for Thanksgiving break in efforts to stop potential community spread.

Universities across the state are beginning to prepare for the system-wide mandate after the announcement was made by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras on Tuesday.

The University at Albany will test about 12,000 students, faculty, and staff who, at some point, traveled to campus this semester.

“We do have people in our family that do have health risks. We don’t want to bring that home to them,” said freshman Dasia Alston.

The saliva-based tests will be held weekly starting November 1. The final check-up is in addition to the already bi-weekly tests the university conducts.

“The whole concept of spitting into a tube is kind of gross, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” said freshman Sanaa Speed.

While freshman Tyler Lidner said there should be flexibility in the university’s semester-end policy, she supports the safety measure.

“To some extent, I do think that it should be up to the individuals,” Lidner said. “I’ve noticed most of the people here seem to be following the rules, because I think most people want to stay on campus and have a good college experience,” Lidner added.

If students don’t follow the pre-departure testing requirements, there are consequences. UAlbany said in a statement:

“Students who do not participate in required surveillance testing could face consequences ranging from deactivation of their ID cards to removal from housing to deregistration from courses. But we’re confident that our students will take advantage of every resource available to them to keep families and home communities healthy and safe.”

Any student or staff member who comes on to campus must be tested.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the RNA Institute, where samples are tested for the university’s biweekly testing, has processed nearly 14,300 saliva samples from asymptomatic members of the UAlbany community, with a presumed COVID-19 positivity rate of approximately .5%.

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