SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After two students in Onondaga County elementary schools tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announced on Monday that Upstate will be working with school districts and the County Health Department to establish a rapid testing site for students and staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19.
“We knew at some point we’d get cases, just like we knew with colleges opening back up we’d get cases. And every industry, we knew at some point we’d have a doctor who would become positive or a nurse who would become positive working…that happened,” said McMahon. “We’ve built up the infrastructure to be able to handle this and we are pleased with how it’s played out to date.”
Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said the communication and cooperation with school districts has been excellent. “We have very low community transmission but we’ll have cases wherever we walk, including schools. So it is just a matter of time and so anxiety will be high but I’m very confident in our ability to contact trace and collaborate with the school superintendents and their health teams.”
This site, which could be located at SUNY Upstate, would be recommended for any student or staff member who develops symptoms. The site would feature SUNY Upstate’s rapid testing, which could turn results in less than 4 hours. The process would allow contact tracing by the Health Department to begin quickly to help contain the spread of the virus by identifying and quarantining any direct contacts of the case.
A student or staff member must test negative for COVID-19 and be symptom-free before they are allowed to return to the classroom.
In addition to the student and staff testing site, Onondaga County is working on a random sampling program in schools to identify any asymptomatic cases. This process will likely be saliva pool sampling, similar to testing being done currently at college campuses.
Over 3,000 tests were done during the county’s Back-To-School testing initiative. From those saliva pools, there were no positive cases.
Watch McMahon’s full press conference, where he and Dr. Gupta address additional questions about the two COVID-19 cases from the elementary schools, in the player below.