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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

COVID-19 Update: Important case details & a note of caution going into the weekend

April 2, 2021

Dear Students:

Following this week’s surveillance testing and individual testing for symptomatic individuals or close contacts, SUNY Potsdam has now identified 29 active student cases, including 12 off campus and 17 on campus. A third of these active cases have been identified through rapid testing offered at Student Health Services or local healthcare providers, and the remainder were identified through weekly testing.

We are continuing to wait on final reflex test results for 1 remaining student positive “pool” identified during this week’s surveillance testing from SUNY Upstate Medical.  There was 1 positive employee case this week.

The big takeaway: Be cautious
It is clear that we have seen a rapid increase in cases. We still do not know what may have contributed to this uptick, but we will continue to examine this in our conversations with our public health partners. It is very clear that everyone should exercise caution heading into the weekend and beyond.

Watch for symptoms
In particular, keep a close watch on your health and any symptoms you may have, no matter how mild. Student Health Services has seen a number of people with cold-like symptoms who ended up testing positive—in contrast to in the past, when in many cases, those with positive cases had no symptoms at all. Keep filling out your daily symptoms tracker and answer truthfully. If you have any of the symptoms listed, you should immediately self-isolate.

If you start to experience symptoms over the weekend, you can schedule an appointment to get tested through St. Lawrence Health Systems at their community testing site online here. If you want to wait and get tested on Monday, call Student Health Services on Monday morning for an appointment. If you have symptoms, you should not come to the Barrington Student Union for the surveillance test, as you should be self-isolating.

No large gatherings
We need your continued cooperation on social distancing. Please be especially diligent this weekend. We know self-isolation is incredibly difficult. But being part of an outbreak is worse. If you must interact with others, be very mindful to keep your “pods” small, ideally only three or four individuals total, and wear your face coverings, even if you are outside. Even with the upcoming holidays, it is critical that you not travel outside the region or have visitors—even family members—to contain the spread of the virus.

Classes remain unchanged, but other restrictions will continue
The restrictions outlined in our message to campus earlier this week will continue, as we work together to stop the spread:

  • Face-to-face classes will continue, following all public health requirements, per SUNY guidance.
  • Campus dining will continue as takeout only.
  • The Fitness Center will remain closed.
  • In-person Campus Life and Residence Life events and activities have shifted to virtual formats.
  • Lounges in the Residence Halls will remain closed to prevent larger groups from gathering.
  • The New York State vaccination clinic in the Maxcy Hall Fieldhouse will remain open and is not affected by any campus restrictions, other than only being open to those with appointments or those working there.

Testing information
We have received a number of questions about the pooled saliva surveillance testing. We realize that the new test kits provided by SUNY Upstate Medical are more cumbersome. Unfortunately, we were required to shift to the new method due to a national shortage of the swab test kits we had been using. While the method of collection is different, the testing method used to analyze the samples remains the same.

As you may have noticed, Upstate now emails individuals when your test results are in. Students and employees can now view their individual results when completed each week. You should receive an email with a link to your results from the Clarifi COVID-19 Team. You may also access them by logging into http://clarifi-covid-19.com. You will use the same login information that you use each week to register your COVID test.

To avoid complications with your test results, please ensure that you register your test with SUNY Upstate Medical, clicking through every step, including hitting “submit” after you enter your barcode. It is also important to make sure that your information in your Upstate Medical account matches the information on your health insurance card. Having mismatched information will likely result in significant delays in receiving your results.

Contact tracing
As a reminder, please pick up your phone even if the phone number isn’t familiar to you, as it may be someone calling about contact tracing. Thank you to all who have tested positive for your cooperation with contact tracing, and to everyone for complying with quarantine or isolation as required. This is so critical to stopping the spread of the virus, and we need everyone’s help. Please remember that the contact tracing process is confidential.

Now is not the time to let down your guard. Please continue to wear your face coverings in all public spaces, avoid gatherings, practice good hand hygiene, don’t travel outside the region, track your symptoms and comply with testing, tracing, quarantine and isolation requirements.

Vaccinations & looking ahead
While most of this information is difficult news, we are excited to report that we had our first student this week who was able to bypass quarantining because they were fully vaccinated. 

Within days, our entire SUNY Potsdam campus community will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Please refer to the email sent to campus earlier this week for more details, and visit https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ to learn more. 

As we have more information on this increase in cases and any other important public health information, we will continue to update the campus. Thank you for your hard work, and please stay strong, Bears.

Sincerely,

Eric Duchscherer
Interim Dean of Students