After one day of pool testing, Binghamton University’s COVID-19 testing procedure has reverted back to the BD Veritor antigen nasal swab COVID-19 test utilized during the fall 2020 semester.
All students, faculty and staff who visit campus regularly are still mandated to be tested weekly, according to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU. Yarosh added that testing results will continue to be reported back to SUNY as well as all other appropriate agencies daily, but registration through the SUNY Upstate website is no longer required.
The use of the antigen test will allow for same-day test results for all students, faculty and staff on an individual basis, according to a BU Dateline announcement. Yarosh said the antigen test allows for test results to be distributed faster than the pool testing permitted.
“People waited in long lines to get their test as the process moved slowly,” Yarosh wrote in an email. “The data input each person was required to perform prior to the test was a significant challenge for some, and we felt transitioning to the antigen test would resolve these issues and provide quicker results.”
One student who experienced these long lines was Mia Stewart, a senior majoring in environmental science. Stewart showed up to get tested at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Upon arrival, Stewart said the line stretched from the Mandela Room to the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development in the University Union.
“I waited for about 15 minutes to see if it would move quickly, but it was taking a while, and I had class soon,” Stewart wrote in an email. “At one point, one of the workers for the testing center came down to the end of the line to tell us that there was a ‘learning curve’ to this new system which seemed to be causing a hold up with testing. He said we could leave and come back next week if we wanted. In the end, I didn’t even end up getting tested because I waited about half an hour, and the line had only slightly shortened.”
The restarting of the antigen testing at BU began the same day as Broome County Executive Jason Garnar, ’99, announced that the U.K. variant of COVID-19 had made its way to Broome County.
As of Feb. 17, there are 589 active COVID-19 cases in Broome County. According to Rebecca Kaufman, director of the Broome County Health Department, Broome County was informed of this U.K. variant case by New York state.
“When someone is swabbed in a lab locally that swab is run, and we find out if the person is positive for COVID-19,” Kaufman said. “The state has developed a plan that a certain number of swabs will be sent to the Wadsworth [Center] to be looked at to see if they contain any variant.”
It is likely that the U.K. variant of COVID-19 has been in Broome County for longer, Kaufman added, as neighboring Tompkins County has had known cases for a few weeks and not every test that is collected is sent away to be tested for variants.
Stewart, who is now rescheduled to get tested at BU next week, said she was happy to hear that the University was switching back to the antigen test, as she thinks it is a safer method of COVID-19 testing.
“Having so many people in line is obviously a risk in itself, so minimizing the amount of people waiting is probably more of a priority at the moment,” Stewart wrote. “Hopefully reverting back to last semester’s [antigen] testing will be just as efficient with this many tests per week, although I think the scheduling process might have to be changed to ensure [avoiding] too many people coming within one time slot.”
Chloe Van Caeseele contributed reporting to this article.