With students sent home and faculty teaching remotely, the University at Albany has converted a campus parking lot into a coronavirus testing site.
Campus President Dr. Havidán Rodríguez says UAlbany is ready to serve the community – as a drive-through facility for COVID-19 testing.
“Our students here, the majority of the nonessential staff, our faculty, are not on campus for the most part,” Rodríguez said. “And so this provides some opportunities for the state to use our facilities and we are delighted to be able to provide them to serve our communities here in the state of New York.”
The roughly 3-acre parking lot is just off University Drive West, near the Colonial Quad Lot and the university’s main library.
It works like this:
Six drive-through lanes run under large white tents where healthcare workers from Albany Medical Center, St. Peter’s Hospital, and the New York State Department of Health are waiting with testing kits. There is also a Mohawk Ambulance standing by, and a team of highway workers in case of a power issue.
Not just anyone can drive up and receive a test. If you believe you have symptoms you must first call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 888-364-3065, get approved for testing, and receive a unique personal identification number. The number is required at the testing site checkpoint.
Rodríguez says members of the New York State National Guard are on site to make sure the entrances don’t become overwhelmed.
“They’re just to provide safety to make sure things flow appropriately,” Rodríguez said. “So when you have large groups of people coming in for the testing they monitor the process and make sure things function smoothly.”
With no end in sight for the pandemic, Rodríguez says the SUNY school’s executive team is meeting regularly to plan for a difficult enrollment period.
“Certainly we don’t know how long this is going to last,” Rodríguez said. “We are preparing for whatever the outcomes might be - but we are certainly looking at how do we maintain our enrollment? How do we enhance our enrollment? And how do we move forward to serve our students in a time of crisis as well?”
Rodríguez says several hundred people were expected to be tested at the site Monday.
There is no estimated timeline for how long the site will operate.
“And so we’ll continue to serve as long as our services are needed and we’re happy to be here in this very difficult time for our communities,” Rodríguez said.