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NBT Bank Stadium COVID-19 Testing Site Sees More Students Than Anticipated In First Week

Onondaga County Executive's Office

The high demand of saliva testing for young students is causing an appointment backlog at Onondaga County’s school COVID-19 testing site at NBT Bank Stadium. Tests are administered and processed by Upstate University Hospital. County Executive Ryan McMahon said Upstate received around 6,000 calls this week, compared to its usual 1,200.

McMahon said the call volume from this week was beyond their anticipation.

“These are symptomatic kids. Insurance is going to cover this test anywhere. We knew that saliva would be the preference for these kids but it seems like every kid -almost every single one of them- that’s being sent home is coming here. And so, that’s creating a little bit of a backlog that we need to properly staff up for.”

This includes Upstate hiring more people to handle all of the calls. The testing site at NBT Bank Stadium serves all of Onondaga County’s school staff and students. Students exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus are sent home and cannot return until they have a doctor’s note and a negative COVID-19 test. McMahon said his team is working with the state to adjust that, requiring students to only have one or the other.

They go to their doctor; their doctor says they’re not going to give them a COVID test because it’s asthma. That, in Dr. Gupta’s opinion, should be enough to let them back into school. Right now, that’s not the case.”

McMahon adds that diagnostic tests are still available at the Syracuse Community Health Center. Symptomatic COVID-19 tests, diagnostic or saliva, are still being covered by insurance companies.

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, poverty, and identity.