University at Buffalo students return to campus, will be tested for COVID-19 weekly

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-31 20:35:21-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — University at Buffalo students, and almost all SUNY students, officially begin the spring semester Monday. SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said they are taking numerous measures to keep students, staff and faculty safe, including testing students who are on campus for COVID-19 weekly.

"Masks at all times. We have reduced the density in our campuses. We normally have about 400,000 students. We have about 150,000 to 160,000 students on our campuses at the time and uniform compliance and other things. The main piece to be successful is testing," Malatras said.

All SUNY students will be tested for COVID-19 weekly through a mouth swab they perform themselves. The results come back within 24 to 48 hours.

"The special sauce here is we can see what’s going on in our campuses when people may not even be exhibiting symptoms and that has been able to keep our positivity rate low," Malatras said.

Since the beginning of September, SUNY schools have conducted more than 765,000 tests. 0.55% have come back positive.

"If we were a state, and we’ve done more testing than some states have done in the country, we would have the lowest positivity rate," Malatras said.

There will soon be an additional lab in Farber Hall on UB's South Campus. The goal of the lab will be to keep up with the influx of tests.

"Right now they have the capacity to do about 200,000 tests a week. We’re going to be able to increase that to about 350,000 tests a week when it’s fully operational," Malatras said.

"We do hope to be up and running in a few weeks. We have the machines and people. We’re trying to gather everything," Dr. Mantosh Dewan, president of Upstate Medical University, said.

The purpose is to not only keep students safe, but the entire surrounding community.

"We’re doing everything in our power to students, faculty and staff and have a safe environment here," Malatras said.