SUNY Campuses Surpass 100,000 Campus-Administered COVID Tests this Semester

September 25, 2020

Overall COVID-positive Rate is 0.75% Across the System since the Start of the Semester

SUNY has a 0.4% Positive Rate over Past Week

Chancellor Discusses SUNY Cobleskill's Model COVID-19 Response with Campus Leaders

Photos from Chancellor's and President's Meeting Today [Available Online]


Cobleskill, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced that SUNY colleges and universities have eclipsed 100,000 total campus-administered COVID-19 tests for the fall semester. Mirroring New York's State's success in stabilizing the virus, SUNY's current overall positivity rate stands at 0.75%. Over the past week, just 0.4% of tests have come back positive.

Chancellor Malatras announced the testing milestone and updated positivity rate during a visit to SUNY Cobleskill—where aggressive testing, decisive, data-driven action, and widespread student safety compliance prevented a COVID-19 surge this week after elevated levels of the virus were detected through wastewater testing. Chancellor Malatras praised President Marion Terenzio, her leadership team, faculty, coaches, and students for working together to contain the virus.

"SUNY's robust effort to conduct 100,000 in-house tests over the course of a month with a positivity rate that's well below 1% and continually dropping shows that by coming together with the right planning and execution, we can keep our campuses open safely," said Chancellor Malatras. "This week's response to early virus traces at SUNY Cobleskill is the perfect example. When President Terenzio and her team learned of elevated virus levels through wastewater testing, they responded quickly and—in just two days—tested 700 students and faculty who could have been exposed using SUNY Upstate's innovative saliva testing. It's simple: aggressive testing, strict safety enforcement, and decisive response measures determined by data worked here—and based on SUNY's low overall positivity rate, the three-pronged approach is working on campuses statewide."

SUNY Cobleskill President Terenzio said, "We responded appropriately to the evolving nature of the crises through a highly effective and coordinated emergency management process, including continuous scenario planning and testing of our procedures to ensure that we had the flexibility to act accordingly in any situation. I am extremely proud of our students who have shown a high level of investment in their educational pursuits and have actively engaged in their learning this semester, demonstrating the importance of the good work we are doing here. I am grateful to the entire team who has devoted their time and energy to ensuring our students, faculty, staff, and entire campus community are safe."

State Senator James Seward said, "Ramped up testing at SUNY Cobleskill is generating strong results, keeping students and the community safe. President Terenzio and her staff along with SUNY Chancellor Malatras are to be commended for their vigilance. The actions at SUNY Cobleskill can serve as a positive model for other campuses to follow as we work together to install best practices across the SUNY system."

Earlier this week, Cobleskill uncovered elevated levels of COVID-19 through wastewater testing. The college quickly tested more than 600 students and approximately 80 faculty members who may have been exposed to the virus. Currently, Cobleskill has just one positive case. The College is also attributing their low case count in part to a strategic, conservative plan for phasing student-athletes into the new norms of training and practicing in the coronavirus era.

SUNY has been able to conduct 100,000 tests in a month's time thanks to a series of major breakthroughs at SUNY Upstate Medical.

Earlier this week, 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 like Cobleskill the ability to ramp up their regular on-campus testing, and accelerate it even further when early traces of the virus are discovered.

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.

Over the last week, SUNY has struck deals with UUP, CSEA, and PEF to greatly expand testing for faculty and staff.

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 country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-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 2023, 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 opportunities, visit

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