Utilizing SUNY Upstate Medical University’s advancements in COVID-19 testing, Alfred State College (ASC) greatly increased the number of students and employees tested for COVID-19 in October. The college also added a new process for the testing of wastewater from residence halls as an early alert system. This combination of testing protocols is able to keep close watch on the entire campus and discover any positive cases sooner to reduce the spread.
As of Oct. 16, ASC reports only three positive cases out of a campus community of approximately 3,900 people. The latest COVID-19 information for the college is available through an online dashboard at www.AlfredState.edu/covid-19 including a video showing many of the coronavirus precautions implemented for the new normal on campus.
ASC is sending upwards of 600 testing samples to SUNY Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences every week. These saliva-based pool testing samples are less invasive than many other forms of COVID-19 testing. The wastewater testing is able to cover more than 1,500 residential students per week.
Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan said, “We are pleased to increase our testing capabilities of students, faculty, and staff and to also add wastewater testing to our list of health monitoring measures. We believe in requiring a wide variety of precautions to keep our campus community safe and healthy. Through the cooperation and participation of all employees and students, we are building an even stronger campus community during this crisis.”
Upon being contacted to participate in pool testing, individuals must respond immediately by registering online and then arrive at the appointed screening location at the scheduled time with a photo ID and smartphone. Participants must then swab their mouths to collect a saliva sample that is then sent to SUNY Upstate Medical to be tested.
Health and Wellness Services is coordinating these pool tests with every pool including samples from 12 individuals. Each week, the college announces the pool test results by email and posts them online, as well. If there is a positive pool, then ASC has authorized SUNY Upstate Medical to perform “reflex tests,” meaning that the college wants to test individual samples immediately from the 12 included in the pool to determine the individual who is positive. In this way, ASC can quickly isolate the positive case and begin contact tracing in coordination with local departments of health.
Alfred State is also one of the first SUNY colleges to participate in a new capability to test wastewater to check for signs of COVID-19. The college collects 24 hours’ worth of samples from residence halls weekly that are sent to SUNY Upstate Medical to be analyzed. If there is any indication of COVID-19, further testing of all residents in that building will begin.
Other forms of health monitoring at Alfred State include daily health checks through a screening app and PCR nasal swab tests for those who exhibit symptoms. The college also has four Becton Dickinson Veritor Plus Analyzers and kits to perform rapid tests for COVID-19, Influenza A+B or Strep. This helps to eliminate the “white noise” of illnesses that produce similar symptoms to COVID-19.