Everything You Need to Know About Getting Tested for COVID-19 at Binghamton University
Posted by Kaitlyn Hart on September 23, 2020
I’ve been tested for COVID-19 testing three times since I came to Binghamton University’s campus this year. Once during move-in, once because I was exhibiting symptoms and another time for surveillance testing. While getting a COVID-19 test isn’t the highlight of anyone’s day, especially when you’re trying to balance schoolwork, extracurriculars and a social life during these crazy times, nothing compares to the relief you feel when you get a negative result back.
There are a few different ways to get tested on campus, so if you’re not really aware of the differences, it can all seem pretty overwhelming (and honestly, a little scary!). Since I’ve been tested a few times, I thought I’d write about what I went through to hopefully help you get through it a little easier. Here’s a pretty basic overview of the process.
Note: If you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, do not come to Old Union Hall for a test! Contact Decker Student Health Services immediately and begin to self-isolate. They’ll tell you what to do next. If you are symptomatic and show up at the surveillance testing site, you are putting the people that work there at risk. Please don’t show up at the testing center unless you are directed to.
If you’re currently living on campus, like me, you’ve already experienced this test; it’s the one that was given to you during move-in! Now, instead of getting the test done at the Events Center, it’s given at Old Union Hall in the University Union. But if you haven’t had this test done or you’re confused about what the new process entails, here’s what you need to know:
First, you’ll receive an email from the University telling you that you need to sign up for testing by picking a time slot that works for you. If you don’t sign up for testing, you can risk being kicked off campus or being suspended, so don’t put off responding to this email! The time slots are one hour and 30 minutes long, but you won’t need to be there that whole time. Once you select a slot and get a confirmation email sent to your Binghamton University email address, you’re all set for now.
On the day you choose, head down to the University Union and wait outside Old Union Hall at the designated time. You’ll see stickers on the floor mandating students stand 6 feet apart from each other. Stand on those and wait in line until you reach the check-in station.
Before you can get tested, you need to check in. You’ll give information confirming your identity, such as your B-Number (I’m personally guilty of always forgetting mine, so if you are too, make sure you have it written down somewhere) and your date of birth. They’ll also ask for a phone number so they can reach you once your test results are available.
Now, it’s finally time to get tested! After you check in, you’ll be directed to a curtained area where you’ll give yourself a swab less than one inch in your nose. You’ll have someone there directing and telling you how to do it, so you won’t need to worry about doing it wrong. This test made me sneeze a lot, but it was painless. It’s also pretty comforting knowing that you’re the one in control, since you’re giving yourself the swab. Once you hand your swab to the person helping you, you can head outside and continue on with your day until you get your results back.
About an hour after you get tested, you’ll either get a text or a call telling you to log in to the University Health Portal. You can find your results under the COVID-19 tab on the portal. If you’re negative, you can continue doing whatever it is you were doing, and if you’re positive, Decker Student Health Services will call you notifying you of your results and what your next steps should be.
There are a few different ways that you can get this test done, and it depends on whether you live on or off campus, but you will always start with a call to Decker Student Health Services at 607-777-2221. A conversation with a medical provider will determine if you should have a diagnostic test.
If you need a test and you live off campus, you’ll be given an order to get this test done at the UHS Vestal drive-through, which you can find more information about here. If you live on campus, like me, you’ll get your test done at the Decker Student Health Services Building, located behind Dickinson Community.
If you're experiencing symptoms
If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, contact Decker Health Services at 607-777-2221 or log that you’re experiencing symptoms on the daily COVID-19 screening response at MyBinghamton.edu. Soon after, Decker Health Services will call you and let you know what your next steps should be. They’ll advise you to self-isolate until you get your test, and they’ll give you tips on how best to do so. They’ll want you to come in as soon as possible for a test. When I had to get this test done, they called me the next day to get tested, so you shouldn’t have to isolate for too long.
For this test, you have to get there on time! You don’t have a wide time slot like surveillance testing; you must be at Decker Health Services building at your designated time. If your symptoms are prohibiting you from getting there, call an ambulance or Harpur’s Ferry to take you to the hospital, but inform them of your symptoms in advance. Don’t put yourself and your fellow students at risk by forcing yourself to get there if you simply can’t.
But if you can get there, here’s what happens next. Once you arrive outside the building, check in by calling Decker Health Services at 607-777-2221. They’ll ask for your identifying information so, again, make sure you remember your B number! You’ll wait outside until you get another call from Decker directing you to the testing area.
At this point, they’ll tell you to go to the testing area, which is a big gray shipping container in the Decker Health Services parking lot. There you’ll meet your doctor, who will be the one to give you the swab. The test that they give at Decker Health Services is a different kind of test than the one given at Old Union Hall. It’s a molecular test as opposed to an antigen test, and someone else will be giving you the test. It is not self-administered. While this might sound kinda scary, it wasn’t at all. The swab itself was smaller, and I felt that it tickled less, but it also goes less than one inch in your nose. I also didn’t have any fears in the back of my mind that I was doing anything wrong.
This test also takes about an hour to get the results from, so you won’t have to wait for too long. You’ll get a call from Decker Health Services notifying you of your results. If you’re negative, you can leave your self-isolation! And again, if you’re positive, Decker will tell you what your next steps should be.
OTHER OPTIONS FOR GETTING TESTED
Since you can’t make appointments for either of these tests, you might be wondering what you should do if you’re not living on campus or you haven’t been called in and want a test anyway. Luckily, there are a few other options close to (and even on) campus for testing. So as long as you make an appointment or have a car for the drive-through sites, you’re good to go!
NYS testing site in Lot ZZ
In Lot ZZ (which is the parking lot in Hillside Community) Binghamton University is host to a New York State testing site. To make an appointment here you don’t need a referral from a doctor, but you do need a car! You can make an appointment by phone at 888-364-3065 or online.
The testing process can be a lot to take in and to figure out, especially if you don’t know where to start looking for this information. When I got tested, most of my anxiety came from not knowing what to expect. But I hope that this helped ease your mind about testing, and I hope that you have a happy and safe semester!
Kaitlyn Hart is an intern in the Office of Media and Public Relations, and a junior double-majoring in English Rhetoric and Political Science, with a minor in Anthropology. She loves to write, watch movies and spend way too many hours of the day on TikTok.
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