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SUNY chancellor says new COVID-19 testing is 'game changer'

Pat Bradley
Newly appointed SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras (center) has been traveling to campuses.

The State University of New York is pushing hard against the coronavirus, with a massive increase in testing using tests newly developed by SUNY Upstate.

Across the SUNY system, the plan is to do 105,000 tests a week. That includes all two- and four-year colleges and university centers.

On Sunday, new Chancellor Jim Malatras met with an array of schools and went to SUNY Fredonia to discuss the COVID-19 counts there. The chancellor pointed to forcing SUNY Oneonta into completely virtual classes after cases soared. He said the trigger line is either 100 cases or 5%, whichever is lower.

Speaking at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine, Malatras said the new tech from Upstate is the key.

"The presidents and I have been meeting. They have all agreed this is important," he said. "So SUNY, as a SUNY-wide policy, will be doing testing on every campus, made possible because of the expansion especially at SUNY Upstate. I think that technology has really helped us. It's an inexpensive technology. It's a student-friendly and a faculty-friendly technology."

Asked about reports of so-called COVID parties - where students go to parties with infected students and students win cash by becoming infected - Malatras called that "reprehensible" and said those cases might force a campus to close and students to lose the college experience or infect others.

"Individual actions have consequences for the entire student body," he said. "So before you have that party, think about the senior who wants to stay on campus for their final year and have a little bit of an experience. Think about that older family member who if you went home and exposed that family member you could get sick and there could be consequences. I saw that daily and it's real life."

SUNY also unveiled a new online COVID tracker as part of the reopening of campuses. It is "a live, up-to-date dashboard that provides data on COVID-19 cases, testing and other vital information, as reported by individual campuses every 24 hours.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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