ONEONTA, NY – At least 20 SUNY Oneonta students have tested positive for COVID-19, and officials say steps are being taken to stop the recent spike in cases.
As of Friday afternoon, SUNY Oneonta reported the number of positive cases is 29, while the Otsego County Health Department says 27. A SUNY news release lists the number at "approximately" 20, and the City of Oneonta also says 20.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras says supplies and personnel are being deployed to campus to test every student over the next three days and to train school employees to administer tests for the rest of the semester.
“Today is the perfect example of how the entire SUNY community can work together and take aggressive action to control COVID-19. We must ramp up testing at SUNY Oneonta immediately, which is why I am sending personnel and resources to quickly pinpoint any other positive cases and isolate those with the coronavirus quickly,” said Chancellor Malatras.
SUNY says Malatras is expected to visit campus next week to discuss the college’s reopening plans and review cases.
"It is very troubling to hear that at least 20 of the young people here in the City of Oneonta have become sick with a potentially dangerous disease. I wish them all a speedy recovery. I am very appreciative of the immediate response and assistance from Chancellor Malatras. I welcome his visit to Oneonta next week and look forward to working in partnership with Chancellor Malatras and President Morris in doing whatever it takes to keep our students and permanent residents healthy. This should serve as a wakeup call to both young and old on how easily this virus can spread and the need to restrict social gatherings," said Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig in a press release.
Once implemented, SUNY Oneonta will use pooled surveillance testing, which takes a group of saliva samples and combines them for one test. A positive test would cause all participants in that pool to be tested individually.
SUNY says Oneonta campus officials are investigating reports of social gatherings which may have contributed to the recent cases. Classes began this past Monday. Many courses are offered fully remote, but some are a combination of online and in-person. Two dorms have been set up for quarantine and isolation.