Student volunteers help test for COVID at SUNY Geneseo

Charles Molineaux
Created: November 16, 2020 11:17 PM

GENESEO, N.Y. (WHEC) — A volunteer corps of student emergency medical technicians is taking on a tough job at SUNY Geneseo: getting every single student tested for coronavirus.

On Monday, the school’s Geneseo First Response EMT service switched to offering daily testing of students and employees so they can get home for Thanksgiving 


All 4000+ students at the school must be tested before they can leave.

“It’s definitely weird. I mean it’s like everything has changed now,” says business major Derek Callen. “Definitely excited to get home for the holidays. It’s going to be way different this year, eating turkey over Zoom.”

Callen had gotten used to repeated coronavirus tests so he turned out at the student union to get another one so he can go home to Buffalo, with the help of volunteers from Geneseo First Response.  

The group normally handles medical emergencies on campus but now it has stepped up to a new role, mass testing. 

“We definitely didn’t expect this at the start of the semester but we have evolved,” says Kaylee Hausrath, EMTB Operations Chief for First Response and a senior at SUNY Geneseo.  

“Doing our part and sending everyone home with a negative test, at least we are sending them back, keeping their own communities safe as well.”

First Response had been offering tests for weeks but as of the start of this week, it’s providing them every day.

The tests kits are consolidated into pools of samples and sent to a lab in Syracuse,

For some students who’ve gone through COVID-19 tests before, the test now being provided is a pleasant surprise.  It’s a do-it-yourself mouth swab, not the swab in other, more familiar tests that goes way up your nose. 

“People are expecting it all the way up to their brains,” Hausrath says. “Then they go through the easy process and walk out and they’re done in just a couple minutes and it’s easy.”

Health officials say Geneseo has been fortunate so far, having some of the lowest infection rates of any SUNY school in the state, although the job of getting everybody tested before Thanksgiving is admittedly a tall order. 

“I think SUNY is in an excellent place to conduct this testing. I think they’ve done an excellent job and I feel very confident that, moving forward, they can,"

This process is expected to go on for about another week, but then will have to start up all over again when the students return for the spring semester around the beginning of February.  

First Response is still working on the details of about how that’s going to be worked out 

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