College Broadcasts Fisheye View of COVID Testing Line

The new camera offers a wide view while obscuring any identifying information of those in line. It is hoped this will reduce the number of individuals attempting to get tested at once.

Last month, NPForward announced a new webcam installed outside of Awosting Hall to give students an idea of the line before waiting to get tested.

Advertised with the catchy tagline, “save some time, check the line!”, the camera’s purpose is to allow students, staff and faculty a chance to see how many people are waiting outside of the campus’ testing site located in the Awosting basement lounge. The camera is updated every minute, with a fish-eye lens that “covers a wide area … while protecting the privacy of those in line,” according to the school’s Feb. 18 newsletter.

“I personally love the camera,” stated fourth-year, communications studies major, Grace Deas. “It’s a great way to plan ahead.”

“Nobody wants to stand in a line,” emphasized Morgan Sumner, a third-year double major in public relations and digital media management. “Especially during Covid, everyone wants to avoid other people as much as possible.” 

Though the news was met with mixed responses including comedic statements from the student body, the Awosting Hall camera showcases another effort by our school to keep the campus safer this semester. The need for a camera to check how long the line is highlights the fact that more tests are being administered this semester than the one prior. About 2,000 more tests than last semester’s total have already been conducted.

This is largely due to our school keeping in line with SUNY’s new, weekly covid-testing requirement for anyone who will be on campus; a huge 180º shift from the occasional pool testing requirement students received last semester. Additional practices our school has in place include daily newsletters to update students on any developments in the number of cases, three “Mind, Body and Spirit” days in place of a spring break and the requirement to book a reservation in order to access facilities such as the library.

Our school seems to be doing better at maintaining a low number of positive cases in comparison to other colleges in the state. For example, SUNY Binghamton released an email to students on Feb. 22, detailing a test positivity rate reaching 2.4%. This upward trend forced the school to cancel a number of extracurriculars and to close a number of facilities such as the school’s Rec Center and East Gym. In comparison, SUNY New Paltz currently has a positivity rate of .55%.

“I think that the fact that everyone has to get tested weekly is crucial,” stated Sumner when comparing our school to a private school her friend attends in Rochester, “They didn’t have any mandatory testing, so when everyone wanted to go home for Thanksgiving break, everyone was testing positive.”

But although our school seems to be safer than others, every campus always has much room for improvement when it comes to remaining covid-safe. New Paltz students seemed shocked to wake up on the morning of Mar. 1 to discover the number of positive cases for our school has reached the double digits. Our campus’ COVID dashboard reports that thirty-two students and three employees have tested positive. 

As we near the one year anniversary of when the virus was declared a national pandemic, it is important to remember that COVID-19 is still a very pressing matter, we have to remain careful and do our due diligence to ensure the health and safety of the entire campus community.