February 7, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 25°F


Cornell University reports increase in COVID-19 risk level

On March 23, Cornell University raised its COVID-19 operational level to yellow “Low to Moderate Risk” after reporting 151 new positive COVID-19 cases March 22 — the highest number of new cases since Cornell dropped its mask mandate March 14.

In a statement to the Ithaca community, Cornell credited multiple factors for the outbreak.

“COVID-19 cases on the Ithaca campus are increasing beyond our predictions, indicating a substantial prevalence of the virus on campus,” the statement said. “This rising transmission is likely due to a number of factors, including relaxing mask requirements, the emergence of the BA.2 variant, and increased social activities.”

The “Low to Moderate Risk” operating status calls for “immediate voluntary actions” to be taken, like wearing high-quality masks at parties and participating in surveillance testing.

The increase in cases comes 12 days after Cornell dropped its mask mandate for most on-campus locations. High-quality masks were still required to be worn in classrooms, laboratories, public transportation and testing sites.

At Ithaca College, COVID-19 cases remain low, with four total active student cases as of March 23. On March 4 — shortly before the college went on spring break — the college lifted its mask mandate, to mixed community response by students and faculty.

At the end of the Fall 2021 semester, both Cornell and Ithaca College experienced enormous COVID-19 surges that made national headlines. The colleges responded by mandating booster shots.