Chancellor Malatras and Stony Brook University President McInnis Announce Partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical University to Launch Pooled Surveillance Testing for COVID-19

September 24, 2020

Stony Brook to Test 5200 Students, Faculty, and Staff Each Week

Testing Expansion Follows FDA Approval of Groundbreaking Saliva Swab Test Developed at Upstate Medical

Photos from Chancellor Malatras’ Visit to Stony Brook and Farmingdale Available Here

Stony Brook, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras and Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis today announced that Stony Brook will expand its weekly testing capacity for students, faculty, and staff by partnering with SUNY Upstate Medical University to launch pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19. By adding testing for commuter students taking classes on campus to the weekly testing already in place for resident students, a total of 5200 students will be tested each week, allowing the University to enhance monitoring, pinpoint the presence of the virus in asymptomatic individuals, prevent outbreaks, and remain open through this unprecedented time. Pooled surveillance testing will begin Monday.

"Stony Brook's current COVID-19 case count remains low as a result of its successful surveillance testing and strong compliance with public health guidance, and is adding to their testing capacity by proactively implementing Upstate Medical's in-house pooled surveillance testing program, which allows us to more quickly detect the presence of the virus and respond with increased urgency and precision," said Chancellor Malatras. "Routine testing, strict safety enforcement, and data transparency make up our three-pronged approach for batting back the virus. Based on their low case count, and on today's meetings with President McInnis, her leadership team, faculty, and students—it is clear Stony Brook is successfully doing all three. I urge them to keep up the great work. I must also thank Upstate Medical Interim President Mantosh Dewan and his team of brilliant researchers whose breakthroughs have increased our testing capacity exponentially."

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Chancellor Malatras announced FDA approval for an individual saliva swab test developed by Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences. By combining this groundbreaking individual saliva swab test with Upstate Medical's state-approved pooled testing protocol, SUNY can now process 120,000 test samples per week in a single lab.

Access to this nation-leading testing regimen gives other SUNY institutions the ability to ramp up and accelerate their on-campus testing. SUNY has administered nearly 98,000 COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the fall semester with a positive rate of 0.77 percent. As testing continues to widen, that positivity rate continues to drop. Over the last five days, 0.35 percent of tests done system-wide came back positive.

Chancellor Malatras announced the launching of in-house pooled surveillance testing during a visit to the Stony Brook campus earlier today. He met with President McInnis and her leadership team, faculty, and students to review the impact of consistent testing and applauded the compliance of students following COVID-19 safety guidelines.

His swing through Long Island also included a stop at Farmingdale State College, where he met with President John S. Nader to check on the status of testing and safety compliance. Farmingdale currently has two active COVID-19 cases on campus. Since the semester began, the college has conducted more than 600 tests with just six positives. The majority of Farmingdale students are engaged in 100 percent distance learning this semester.

Stony Brook University President McInnis said, "The entire Stony Brook community is grateful for the Chancellor's and Governor's leadership, enabling us to substantially increase our weekly testing for students. I'm pleased that Chancellor Malatras had the opportunity to recognize members of the University community, especially our students, for their responsible action and compliance with public health guidance. The campus remains safely open, five weeks into the semester, thanks to their commitment."

Farmingdale College President Nader said, "Chancellor Malatras' visit provides Farmingdale an opportunity to review our detailed public health and testing protocols which have yielded a safe and successful return to campus. FSC was a leader in offering testing opportunities to students, faculty, and staff during the summer. We are now rapidly expanding our surveillance testing thanks to the support provided by the Chancellor and SUNY."

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone said, "Testing is one of the most critical tools we have when it comes to preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19. Pooled surveillance testing on our SUNY campuses will allow us to identify as many positive cases as possible and isolate those individuals and their close contacts quickly and efficiently. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Malatras for their continued leadership and innovation when it comes to protecting the safety and health of our Suffolk County residents and students."

State Assembly Member Steven Englebright said, "I commend Chancellor Malatras and Stony Brook President McInnis for bringing this vital testing system to Stony Brook University. The health of students, staff, and community members must be given the highest priority. Pooled surveillance testing can help to speed up the process of identifying infections and preventing the spread. The pandemic has affected all of our lives. By staying smart, following all safety protocols, and making use of new testing we can all stay healthy."

SUNY Upstate Medical University Interim President Mantosh Dewan, MD, said, "Keeping our students, campuses, and communities safe is of the utmost importance, and SUNY Upstate Medical University is grateful to be a part of that process. We thank SUNY Chancellor Malatras, the Department of Health, and others who have been instrumental in advancing this rapid testing protocol. Upstate stands ready to be of continued service to the state in managing this pandemic."

Both the individual test and the pooled test developed by Upstate Medical and Quadrant can be done using saliva swabs rather than by swabs inserted in a person's nose. Individuals administer the tests themselves, swabbing their mouths and provide the saliva samples to Upstate Medical. Their samples are combined into one, which is tested for COVID 19 virus.

A negative test means that all 10-25 people in the group are presumed at the time to be coronavirus-free.

A positive test for the pool would mean each individual saliva sample within the pool would need to be tested again individually to pinpoint exact positive cases. The rapid retesting does not require people in the positive pool to return to submit an entirely new sample. This greatly accelerates the process and expands testing capacity.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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