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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 25, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Cornell lowers COVID-19 alert level after two days of no new cases

Cornell University has lowered its COVID-19 alert level back to green, which means that cases are rare and transmission of the virus is controlled, after two days of no positive cases.

Cornell changed its alert level to yellow Sept. 3 after two clusters of positive cases emerged. These clusters were related to several small gatherings in which social distancing and mask-wearing were not observed. The majority of the initial cluster was made up of student-athletes, and the other cluster was made up of both Cornell and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) students. TC3 held remote classes from Sept. 3 to 11 to allow for contact tracing after six students tested positive.

There are a total of 129 people involved in the initial cluster, with 48 positive cases and 81 people who had to be placed in quarantine, Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County public health director, said at the Tompkins County Legislature meeting Sept. 15. There were 52 people involved with the second cluster, with 14 positive cases and 38 people who were placed in quarantine.

There were 29 new positive cases at Cornell during the week of Sept. 8 and a total of 95 cases overall at Cornell, as of Sept. 15. The shift back to a green alert level means that the spread of the virus is controlled, but students are still asked to wear masks, wash their hands and socially distance. The capacity of on-campus spaces will be 50% or less, and student gatherings must have 10 or fewer people. Everyone should wear masks and maintain physical distance. Visitors are not allowed on campus and travel is discouraged.

There are 39 active positive cases and 383 total positive cases in Tompkins County as of Sept. 15. Since July, there has been an increase of positive cases among the ages of 10–19 from 6% of total cases to 25% of total cases, Kruppa said at the legislature meeting. The number of positive cases among the 20–29 age range has also increased from 30% of total cases to 36% of total cases.

“That makes sense when we’re talking about higher education–centered clusters,” Kruppa said at the meeting. “What we have found is our clusters have been driven by newer students to higher education, so freshmen students that are in that 17, 18, 19 age range.”

There are four active positive cases at Ithaca College as of Sept. 14, according to the college’s COVID dashboard. There have been a total of six positive cases at the college since Aug. 14.

Testing for students and employees who are asymptomatic takes place at the Athletics and Events Center. Testing is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Those who are experiencing symptoms are not allowed on campus and must go to the sampling site at The Shops at Ithaca Mall.

Alexis Manore can be reached at amanore@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @AlexisManore