State COVID testing center to open this week at SUNY New Paltz

A New York State sponsored Covid testing site has opened this week at SUNY New Paltz at the College Terrace. It is being run by Quadrant Biosciences. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

SUNY New Paltz has become the designated host for a state-run community PCR testing site for the COVID-19 virus. Since the County executive, Pat Ryan, announced the testing site on January 5, Hudson Valley One has learned that it has been slated for the Terrace Restaurant on campus, with training being done on Monday, January 10 and an official opening on Tuesday, January 11. The site will provide appointment-based and walk-in COVID-19 testing Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The site will offer PCR tests that will be processed at the State University lab in Syracuse. This testing site is for all New York State residents, even those who do not reside in Ulster County, said Dan Torres, Town of New Paltz councilman and Executive Ryan’s assistant.

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Twenty community testing sites in total are being established on campuses throughout the SUNY system, with the second batch of ten opening this week. According to governor Kathy Hochul, the statewide testing sites will be used for appointments and walk-in COVID-19 testing, Monday through Friday for an unspecified duration. New community testing sites are available on the campuses of SUNY Geneseo, Potsdam, Brockport, Canton, Cobleskill, Farmingdale, Fredonia, Morrisville and SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica, in addition to New Paltz. Each site will maintain capacity for approximately 225 appointments per day and up to 50 walk-ins.

“We are not defenseless as we fight the winter surge: vaccines, boosters and testing can help us slow the spread and protect our loved ones,” Governor Hochul said. “These new SUNY sites build on our ongoing efforts to make testing more available as part of our Winter Surge Plan, and will be part of more than 2,000 locations statewide where New Yorkers can easily get tested for COVID-19. We are utilizing every possible State resource to keep New Yorkers safe and protect our fragile health care system.”

This rollout comes in response to a COVID-19 surge caused by the omicron variant, which from early data is believed to be much less severe than previous variants, but more contagious and able to break through vaccine immunity. Testing has been touted as key to slowing the surge, but Ulster County residents have been finding it difficult to get at-home tests, with many having to line up at urgent-care centers like First Care in Highland to be tested. Before the holidays, the county provided 50,000 free at-home rapid kits, with cars lined up literally for miles in hopes of securing a test. While PCR tests are covered by insurance, rapid tests are not.

This week, Executive Ryan will announce information on distribution of additional free COVID-19 at-home rapid tests along with masks. “Based on the surge we have seen driven by the omicron variant, and as part of our proactive plan to make testing more readily available in the county, we requested this week that New York State activate a testing site in Ulster County,” Ryan said. “I want to thank governor Kathy Hochul and her team for the rapid response, and for her strong leadership during the pandemic. This site will help ensure that our residents have access to critically needed testing so we can keep our residents healthy, and continue to keep our schools and businesses open safely.”

Since schools reopened after the holiday break, several districts have had to go remote for a day or days, due to lack of staffing from omicron quarantines.

The CDC has lessened its quarantine guidelines for COVID-19 infections to five days from the onset of symptoms. While cases have increased in this region and throughout the US, the number of people who have been hospitalized or died from the omicron variant has decreased significantly, with the majority of severe cases being attributed to unvaccinated individuals.According to Chrissie Williams, assistant director of Media Relations at SUNY New Paltz, “Students and employees are advised that tests conducted at this state facility will be considered ‘off-campus’ tests for purposes of our COVID-19 Profile (we know, it’s confusing!). Members of our community who test at the state-run public testing site will need to manually upload their results to the COVID-19 Profile to meet campus testing requirements.” Thus, the college recommends that its faculty and staff continue to test at the campus-run testing site in Awosting Hall, as results from that facility are automatically uploaded to their student/staff/faculty profile.

The SUNY New Paltz Community Testing Site is located in the College Terrace Building at 1 Hawk Drive. To make an appointment for on-campus testing, visit https://app.squarespacescheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=24841628&calendarID=6397542.

For additional information regarding vaccines, boosters and testing, visit VaccinateUlster.com.

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