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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 25, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

News

UPDATE: 14 new COVID-19 cases identified in Cornell cluster, second cluster identified

The Tompkins County Health Department has identified 14 new positive COVID-19 cases linked to a previously identified cluster of Cornell University students, as well as a second cluster of positive cases.

The health department has stated that there were 25 new positive cases Sept. 2, a number that includes the aforementioned 14 cases. This is the largest single-day increase in Tompkins County since the pandemic began. There are now 57 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County as of Sept. 2, according to the health department. 

The health department announced Aug. 28 that nine COVID-19 cases in the county were related to several small gatherings in which social distancing and mask-wearing were not observed. Cornell University confirmed Aug. 29 that these individuals were Cornell students. At the Tompkins County Legislature meeting Sept. 1, Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County public health director, said the health department’s contact tracing found that there were an additional 12 cases among Cornell students related to these gatherings, bringing the total to 21 cases. On Sept. 2, the health department announced the additional 14 positives, bringing the number of cases associated with this cluster to 35.

The second cluster of eight positive cases identified over the past two days is connected to Cornell  and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3). Contact investigations are ongoing, and anyone who tests positive will go into mandatory isolation. As close contacts are identified, they are encouraged to seek a test and ordered into mandatory quarantine, the health department stated.

Cornell began its classes with a mix of in-person and virtual instruction Sept. 2. Cornell has not made an announcement signifying a change in instruction. The university is planning to begin surveillance testing twice a week for undergraduate students beginning Sept. 3. 

TC3 began in-person classes Aug. 31 and announced Sept. 2 that six students tested positive for COVID-19, four of whom were part of the 25 new cases. In response to the cases and to allow for contact tracing and cleaning, TC3 will shift to remote instruction for Sept. 3 and Sept. 4.

“We know the majority of students are adhering to campus guidance and are doing exactly what they have been asked to do by their respective institution,” Kruppa said in a statement. “A small number of people have had a large negative impact on our community and their peers. This is not the way any of us hoped to start the semester, but it is the reality we are living.”

Ithaca College students who have attended a gathering but are asymptomatic are encouraged to get tested at the Athletics and Events Center. Testing will be available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 4 for employees and off-campus students and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for on-campus students. Testing will also be available from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sept. 5 for employees and off-campus students and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for on-campus students. Additional dates in September will be announced in the coming days.

Students who are symptomatic are not allowed at the on-campus testing center and must go to the sampling site at The Shops at Ithaca Mall.

Madison Fernandez can be reached at mfernandez1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @madfernandez616