The South P commuter lot at Stony Brook University converted into a drive thru coronavirus testing facility. MAYA BROWN/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook students are facing a lot of uncertainty right now — the university is transitioning to online classes, and most have to move off campus. However, their overall health and well-being is of utmost importance. Resources do exist, and The Statesman interviewed some specialists for tips.

Students experiencing any sudden coughs or spikes in fever should seek medical help. As worry grows, public health officials and physicians have been encouraging the general public to only seek emergency assistance when direly needed.

“Right now, the ER is likely overrun and a risk for more exposure — both to others, and yourself,” Dr. Sarika Banker, a board-certified dermatologist, said. While in training, she treated immunocompromised patients susceptible to infection. “I would say if you are asymptomatic but have known exposure, have contacts isolated, then self-quarantine. If mild upper respiratory symptoms are present, then notify contacts and quarantine at home until mobile testing is available.” 

Banker strongly advises that “if fever, cough, flu-like symptoms or shortness of breath develops, then go to the ER.” 

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Since it’s allergy season, allergy symptoms may be confused for COVID-19. A runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes — with no fever — have not been associated with COVID-19. Students experiencing any chest pain, difficulty breathing or spikes in fever should consult with a medical professional.

For students within the vicinity, a drive-thru testing site is now open at Stony Brook University in the South P lot.

“Testing is available by appointment only,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “Residents should call 888-364-306 to speak with a healthcare professional and schedule a visit.”

Alternatively, for students who may be unable to commute or reach the testing site, Mount Sinai Health has launched telehealth services for remote care. 

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With the increasing need of social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, virtual visits allow for the delivery of medical treatment and advice in the comfort of your own home. All one needs is a phone, tablet or computer to connect with a physician who can assess your symptoms as well as prescribe treatments. 

The website outlines three options available to patients: Virtual Urgent Care, Express Consult and Text-to-Chat. 

“At only $25 per consultation, connect with a doctor from anywhere with Mount Sinai NOW Video Urgent Care,” the website reads. Nurses are also available to text at 4-SINAI, should a patient suspect they have COVID-19. 

If a student is experiencing symptoms, they can contact the testing site at Stony Brook University to schedule an appointment for diagnostics. After a series of questions, the healthcare professional on the line will decide if the patient needs COVID-19 testing. 

Doctors will use a nasopharyngeal swab — similar to one that tests for influenza — to sample a patient’s nose and mouth. A provider will typically respond with results within 48 to 72 hours.

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Dr. Piyush Banker, neuroradiologist at Northwell Health in Manhasset, recollects an encounter with a patient who tested negative for COVID-19 last week. Six days later, the patient’s CT scan — a combination of x-ray images and computer processing — indicated signs of the virus attacking both of their lungs. 

“Many tests can be negative early on, or a sample may be taken from an area that does not contain the virus,” he said. 

Piyush Banker stressed the importance of isolation and diagnosing COVID-19 as early as possible. 

“If a patient is being tested via nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs, they should be retested to confirm negative results,” he noted. He urges patients to be their own best advocate.

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