SUNY’s LI schools look good as COVID tracker debuts

Watching you: State health and education officials are keeping close tabs on COVID-19 at statewide SUNY schools, and sharing the data with the general public.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Note to the party crowds on SUNY’s 64 statewide campuses: Big Doctor is watching.

With colleges and universities across the land reporting significant COVID-19 outbreaks – and a coronavirus cluster already closing one state university campus for the entire fall semester – Albany and SUNY are getting a little more proactive, with the launch of a system-wide COVID-19 tracking system.

The new dashboard, officially introduced Sunday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, provides updated information on administered tests and confirmed cases across the university system, as well as daily counts of quarantined students, available per-campus quarantine rooms and other important pandemic-related data.

The dashboard can be configured to report on the entire system or any combination of SUNY’s 64 campuses, including individual schools.

Jim Malatras: Quick thinking.

On Tuesday morning, for instance, the tracker reported 60 new positive cases across the entire system since SUNY reported 54 new system-wide positives on Sept. 1. But Long Island’s SUNY schools – Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College, SUNY Old Westbury, Nassau Community College and Suffolk County Community College – reported only two new positives since Sep. 1, when 17 were discovered.

Both of Tuesday’s new SUNY/Long Island positives were reported at SBU, where all 17 of those positive cases were found Sept. 1.

The dashboard is being tailored on the fly and new tracking categories are in the works. The big ideas behind the publicly accessible tracking system are transparency and, in the case of an outbreak, more efficient containment efforts, Malatras said Sunday.

“As coronavirus cases spring up on our college campuses, we are reviewing real-time case data around the clock,” the chancellor added. “This data is crucial to helping SUNY make quick, smart decisions that contain COVID-19 and protect our campus communities.”

Cuomo called the SUNY tracking system an example of “immediate action,” with tens of thousands of U.S. collegians suffering fresh COVID-19 infections and the long-foretold “second wave” looming.

“This new dashboard will help students, parents and faculty stay informed with the latest data,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I urge our SUNY community to stay vigilant as the virus continues to be a national and global crisis – wear masks, socially distance and be smart.”