Chancellor Malatras Announces SUNY Upstate Medical University to Partner with Albany International Airport to Test Airport Employees and Travelers for COVID-19 Using Upstate’s FDA Approved Saliva Test

December 6, 2020

Testing of Airport Employees at No Cost to Start Friday, December 11, Testing for Travelers To Begin at the End of the Month

Expansion of Testing Effort Made Possible by SUNY Upstate Innovative Pool Surveillance Testing Method With Capacity to Test 200K Individuals a Week

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today with Upstate Medical President Mantosh Dewan, M.D. and Albany International Airport CEO Philip Calderone a COVID-19 partnership to test airport employees and travelers.

SUNY will begin voluntary testing of the airport’s employees at no cost on a regular basis beginning on Friday, December 11, subject to final airport board approval. Testing for passengers will be available to purchase at approximately $30 at the end of this month to allow travelers to test in advance of their flights or just after their return. Arriving passengers will have the option to purchase a take home kit with instructions to test themselves after day four of their flight and they would be able to mail the test to Upstate Medical for analysis. The take home kit is about $60, which is still considerably lower than other diagnostic tests that average between $100-$150.

"SUNY has led the way in developing solutions to combatting COVID-19 from producing face shields to providing the healthcare workforce to Upstate Medical University’s state of the art testing approved by the FDA," said Chancellor Malatras. "It demonstrates the power of public higher education to be a critical resource to tackle the challenges we face. My thanks to Upstate Medical President Dewan and his team’s ongoing efforts to combat this virus through testing analysis, vaccine research, and providing healthcare during this monumental time, as well as CEO Calderone’s collaboration to expand our reach to help the employees who handle the operations and ensure the safety of their travelers. We’re in this together."

Upstate Medical President Dewan said, "SUNY Upstate Medical University is pleased to do its part in keeping New York State safe, especially during this unsettling spike in COVID cases. Our groundbreaking work on large-scale, cost-effective, and accurate COVID testing, developed on our Syracuse campus with our Start Up New York business Quadrant Biosciences, has proven to be a defense in keeping COVID at bay. We are grateful to partner with SUNY Chancellor Malatras and the entire SUNY system in bringing the excellence of academic medicine to the benefit of institutions across the state."

CEO of Quadrant Biosciences Rich Uhlig said, "We're excited to extend the success of our saliva-based COVID-19 testing protocol beyond the SUNY schools to better serve the great people of New York State. Without question, Albany International Airport is on the leading edge of organizations intent on improving the health and safety of their employees and the community of air travelers they serve—we’re proud to be part of the solution."

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, "We know how important testing is, which is why I worked with partners to bring walk-up testing to underserved neighborhoods and to the Times Union Center, all while working with partners at local colleges to expand student testing. Increased testing means we are better able to pinpoint where the virus is spreading and to identify and notify others who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. By bringing this to airport employees, we are testing people on the front lines who are interacting with travelers and again, working diligently to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Albany International Airport CEO Philip Calderone said, "Albany International Airport continues to advance its Smart Airport approach to become the first airport in New York State to offer saliva diagnostic testing. COVID-19 testing is an essential step to insure the health and safety of our workforce and the traveling public and we are grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo, State University Chancellor Jim Malatras, SUNY Upstate President Mantosh Dewan and Richard Uhlig, CEO of Quadrant Biosciences for sharing their COVID-19 testing knowledge and experience."

New York State Department of Financial Services Deputy Superintendent and Special Counsel Gareth Rhodes, who is on Governor Cuomo’s COVID19 Response Task Force, said, "In containing the coronavirus, Governor Cuomo has made New York State a global leader in testing, which from Day One has been a key strategy in saving lives and controlling viral spread. Through the collaboration we have between SUNY, Upstate Medical, and Albany International Airport, we can provide tests to the employees and travelers of this airport, which will help us pinpoint any potential cases more quickly, and limit the number of cases coming into the state through air travel."

Albany International Airport will complete construction of a testing site this week and staff the facility to provide tests to employees. Tests will be handed out and employees may administer it themselves on site, and will be conducted within a structure that allows for social distancing. Tests will be collected and sent to Upstate Medical for analysis.

The expansion is possible by SUNY Upstate’s innovative pooled surveillance testing protocols with a capacity of 200,000 tests per week.

About SUNY Upstate Medical’s Pooled Surveillance Testing

SUNY has been able to conduct more than 200,000 tests weekly this semester thanks to a series of major breakthroughs at SUNY Upstate Medical. Both the New York State Department of Health and FDA gave 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.

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, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. As of Fall 2019, more than 415,500 students were enrolled in a degree-granting program at a SUNY campus. 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 exceeded $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are 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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