COVID Cases Among Cornell Athletes Prompts Increased Restrictions

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TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – The current cluster of cases among Cornell students continues to rise. On Thursday afternoon, University officials announced the school’s COVID alert level was raised to Yellow.

The color-coded system indicates the level of infection among students and staff at the Ithaca campus. Each level calls for a different degree of testing and other restrictions.

Provost Michael Kolikoff and Ryan Lombardi the Vice President for Student and Campus Life sent out a joint announcement about the change. They explained that over the past six days a cluster of 39 new cases have been diagnosed. Of those, 36 were a group of college athletes. Others were the result of student gatherings where safe distancing and wearing of face masks were not practiced.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

Sign at an entrance to Cornell University campus. Ithaca, New York. Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

Officials stated that because of the cluster they initiated a wider screening beyond regular contact tracing to include all members of some sports teams. Cornell did not identify which team or teams the infected students were part of.

Student gatherings are now restricted to no more than 10 people. All university-related events and activities remain canceled until at least the end of September.

The officials said that some students have already been suspended or banned from campus because of failure to follow requirements spelled out in a “behavioral compact”.  They reminded students that, “All of us share a responsibility to conduct ourselves in ways that do not put others at risk, and we cannot allow the actions of a few to ruin the possibility of an in-person semester and risk the health and safety of our community.”

Cornell is not alone in attempting to control a sudden rise in COVID among students. Tompkins Cortland Community College announced that it is moving to remote learning until next week after a spike of five cases among students. Also on Thursday, the SUNY Chancellor announced that SUNY Oneonta will return to all online learning because of the spread of COVID-19 among students.