Chancellor Malatras Announces SUNY Campuses Administered Over One Million COVID-19 Tests Since Start of 2020-2021 Academic Year

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Source: The State University of New York

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today that SUNY campuses have just surpassed the one millionth COVID-19 test administered since the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. Campuses have administered 1,001,367 tests and counting to students, faculty and staff, more than some states, with a positivity rate of 0.53. In addition to testing numbers, SUNY reports all positive results, as well as quarantining and isolation percentages within its SUNY COVID-19 Case Tracker. SUNY also provides testing data broken out for students and employees, as well as comparative positivity rates at the state, region, county and campus levels. SUNY publishes daily metrics, as well as 14-day, 7-day, and 3-day rolling positivity rates, which, SUNY-wide, are 0.47, 0.59, and 0.60, respectively, well below state averages. Broken down by students and faculty/staff the positivity rate for students over the past 14 days is 0.58 percent, and faculty and staff 0.14 percent.

SUNY required all students to get pre-tested prior to the start of the spring semester and then at least weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff weekly who will be on campus, in order to track any potential surges, particularly as that the rate of COVID is higher across the country than when classes began last fall.

"As SUNY is the largest higher education system, regular COVID testing of our students, faculty, and staff helps us deal swiftly and aggressively with any emerging issues in a targeted way to limit spread and keep campuses safe," said Chancellor Malatras. "Hitting one million tests wouldn’t be possible without the researching firepower of SUNY Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences, which gave us the world’s number one ranked saliva test—an easy to administer and less intrusive test—which detects asymptomatic cases. Our ability to scale this vital testing across our campuses over the past several months has paid dividends because as I travel to campuses and I meet with our students, they are happy to be back, and they want to keep it that way. Testing is a part of campus life for now, and it provides us with the evidence we need to keep our students safe—our first priority above all else. With our additional capacity, SUNY will also continue to help other community partners in need access our saliva test as well."

Upstate Medical University President Dr. Mantosh Dewan said, "Upstate is incredibly proud to be a part of this monumental achievement. While I know we would all rather have the pandemic behind us, creating an environment in which testing is accessible, efficient, and accurate is the next best scenario to keep students, faculty, and staff safe on campuses across the state. Upstate's role in developing the No. 1 saliva test ranked worldwide has been instrumental in these efforts. Our team's impressive work to create the Clarifi COVID-19 test is having a profound impact on every aspect of SUNY—allowing campuses to remain open and offer the world-class education that SUNY is known for. Upstate is proud and humbled to play such an important role in this effort along with our partners—Quadrant and SUNY."

Richard Uhlig, Founder and CEO of Quadrant Biosciences, said, "When we embarked on developing the Clarifi COVID-19 test with Upstate Medical University almost a year ago, our objective was to develop a highly sensitive and easy to administer saliva test. It has been no small feat, and a testament to the dedication of our team, that we were then able to so quickly design, develop, and scale the infrastructure necessary to allow testing of such a large number of students and faculty. It is extremely gratifying that the Clarifi COVID-19 test has not only been administered over a million times, but has also been recognized as the most sensitive COVID-19 saliva test by the FDA, and among the most sensitive of all commercially available tests."

SUNY Upstate Medical currently has the capacity to conduct 200,000 COVID tests per week, and when its new laboratory is constructed at University at Buffalo, total testing will reach 350,000 tests per week, and results will be turned around within 24 hours rather than 48 hours. The new lab will handle weekly saliva COVID-19 testing for all SUNY campuses in Western New York. It will be operational by March 1st.

Chancellor Malatras is investing $120,000 in the expansion by purchasing the equipment to process Upstate Medical's COVID-19 test at the new lab. Additional funding will be provided by joint partner Quadrant Biosciences, a New York based molecular diagnostics company. The UB laboratory will be staffed by Quadrant Biosciences in partnership with SUNY faculty and student medical researcher teams.

Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences co-developed the Clarifi COVID-19 test, the world's number one ranked saliva test according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The test is accurate for detection of all common strains of the virus, and detects asymptomatic cases. In addition to assisting SUNY campuses with COVID testing, SUNY, Upstate Medical, and Quadrant Biosciences has established partnerships with Albany International Airport, NYPA, and Saranac Lake School District.

Chancellor Malatras has been meeting with students, faculty, staff, and local officials as campuses reopened to reaffirm SUNY's spring semester guidance, which was announced last November, and includes pre-testing of all students prior to the start of the semester, mandatory pre-semester quarantine of students, mandatory mask wearing at all times, even when socially distanced, no spring break, uniform compliance and enforcement standards, expanded mental health and wellness services, and a student's bill of rights for greater transparency.

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