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Onondaga County planning coronavirus test site for students

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)

In the wake of two students testing positive for the coronavirus in two different school districts in Onondaga County, county health officials are developing ways to get quicker information on potential cases.

County Executive Ryan McMahon said it was inevitable that there would be a positive coronavirus test  as children returned to school. But he said Monday the protocol in place handled it well.

We quickly isolated the individual, quickly quarantined. Every case is different with contact tracing, but certainly I think the process worked very, very well," McMahon said.

To get that process working more seamlessly, the county is working with Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse to develop a testing site, specifically for symptomatic children and staff at schools.

"We want to be able to know when a staff member or student has symptoms, that they have a place to go so we can communicate directly with the health department," McMahon said. "So that if we get that positive we can immediately begin contact tracing and we don’t lose any time."

McMahon expects the testing site to be in place by the end of the week. Test results would be returned within four hours.

In addition to that, the county is working on a program to find asymptomatic cases in schools. It would use random pooled saliva tests. McMahon expects there will be more positive cases in school districts, but quick action by schools and health officials should ease anxiety going forward.

"Then you move on and every time there’s a case people aren’t holding their breath," he said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.