After COVID-19 Uptick On Oswego Campus, SUNY Chancellor Says There’s ‘No Cause For Alarm’

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – There is “no cause for alarm” at SUNY Oswego according to SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. Forty-three students tested positive for COVID-19 this week. That brings the total up to 64 cases since the beginning of the semester. Malatras visited campus Wednesday, met with the SUNY Oswego president and discussed the college’s reopening plan.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras (center) with Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow (right) and SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley (left). TOM MAGNARELLI / WRVO PUBLIC MEDIA

Malatras said it looks like the uptick in cases could be the result of parties.

“We want to keep students here and operating,” Malatras said. “If there has to be some mitigation efforts taken, we will keep students here as much as we can. But, we all have to remain vigilant and we all have to continue to do the right thing and socially distance, and wear our masks and not go to mass gatherings.”

He said he’s confident SUNY Oswego will be able to keep students on campus for the remainder of the semester. He praised the college’s reopening plan, including surveillance testing, which he said is key.

“SUNY Upstate Medical University is working with our campuses to pool test, so it’s quick, cheap for all of our students and faculty,” Malatras said. “The president has set up a testing site here, just for those purposes, so we can now monitor and mitigate issues as they pop up. That’s why you’re seeing some of these cases. They’re testing, they’re understanding it.”

The college is also increasing the number of isolation rooms to stop the spread of COVID-19, and is working with the City of Oswego. The city has had to shut down some parties and is doing wastewater testing.

SUNY Oswego implemented a testing program for students before the semester began, but it was not required by the state. Malatras, who has been chancellor for only a couple weeks, said just like the state, SUNY has had to ramp up testing and now they can test more than 100,000 students and faculty a week.

“But that just happened last week,” he said. “We have more testing capacity, we’re going to use it.”

Last week, Malatras ordered SUNY Oneonta to end in-person classes and on-campus housing after nearly 400 students tested positive for COVID-19. They’re now at about 700 cases.