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‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ Response to University’s Free Community COVID-19 Testing
With access to COVID-19 tests becoming increasingly scarce in and around Central New York, Syracuse University began offering free COVID-19 testing to the Central New York community on Jan. 4.
Announced earlier this month by New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul ’80, as part of a concerted, statewide effort to quickly detect and isolate the presence of the virus and limit transmission, the drive to administer free tests to community members came as COVID cases began to spike in and around Onondaga County at the beginning of the new year.
Through the initiative’s first week, nearly 1,700 Central New Yorkers have taken advantage of these free community COVID tests at the Stadium Testing Center on campus.
“The community response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. It has really been heartening to see so many community members take advantage of this resource, and we feel confident we will be able to accommodate everyone who comes out for a test,” says Adam Hepburn, executive director of operations in the University’s Office of Strategic Initiatives and Innovation.
When the announcement was first made, Hepburn admits he wasn’t sure how the greater community would respond to the free tests. He soon learned just how great of a need there was for complimentary COVID tests. Hepburn says many of the community members who have benefited expressed their gratitude over the University opening up its doors and making these tests available.
“There was a mother of five who brought her children with her to the Stadium Testing Center. As she came through the site, she explained to us just how difficult a time she had in finding tests for her children in the community, and that it would have cost her hundreds of dollars to get her kids tested. She was exceedingly pleased to have access to this testing resource on our campus,” says Hepburn, who credits the campus community for coming together to make this resource available.
Hepburn says the PCR direct saliva tests being administered at the Stadium Testing Center are accurate and reliable, with results known within 24 to 48 hours. Instead of requiring an appointment, interested community members can just walk up to the Stadium Testing Center and receive their saliva test, with very little wait time.
“The testing lab has been quite busy with this extra testing; however, we are still able to meet the 24-to-48-hour turnaround time to get test results back to community members,” adds Ramesh Raina, the University’s interim vice president of research and a member of the University’s Public Health Team. “These people who are benefiting from these tests are members of our community. With increased testing needs, combined with limited testing resources, anything we can do to help with testing is a good thing. We’re happy that we can help our community.”
In addition to the Public Health Team members and University staff facilitating the community testing, 10 members of the National Guard were deployed to the Stadium Testing Center to assist with this effort. Both Hepburn and Raina credit the University’s on-campus partners with ensuring the testing process runs smoothly.
Community members can continue to take advantage of free COVID tests at the stadium through Friday, Jan. 14. Testing hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
The University will continue providing testing to its campus community, including students, faculty, staff and the families of employees, at Kimmel Dining Hall through Friday, Jan. 14. Testing for campus members will resume at the Stadium Testing Center beginning on Sunday, Jan. 16. Hours for campus community testing are available on the University’s Stay Safe testing webpage.
Syracuse University’s testing available to asymptomatic individuals. Individuals experiencing COVID-like symptoms should not visit the stadium; instead, they should contact their health care provider or visit a local urgent care facility. Individuals who plan to test at the Stadium Testing Center, be advised:
- No appointments are necessary; simply visit the testing center at a time that is convenient for you during operating hours.
- Parking is available at the Raynor Avenue Lot and Irving Garage; handicap accessible parking is available in the Quad Lot. A parking lot map can be accessed by visiting the Campus Maps webpage.
- Enter the stadium through Gate N.
- Do not eat, chew gum, drink, use mouthwash or use any tobacco products for 30 minutes before testing.
- Deposit enough saliva to reach the line marked on the tube.
- Only deposit saliva into the tube (no mucus or phlegm)!
- Hydrate well earlier in the day to prevent dry mouth.
- Masks must be worn at all times, except when actively depositing the test sample. Surgical masks will be available at the stadium.
- Individuals will receive test results via email with any appropriate guidance.
- Individuals who have tested positive in the last 90 days should not participate in this surveillance testing.
To learn more about Syracuse University’s testing strategy, visit Syracuse.edu/staysafe.