Increase in positive COVID-19 cases on the Ithaca campus

Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi sent the following message Nov. 12:

Over the past several days, the university has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases within our student population. Six new cases were added to our public dashboard today, with additional cases expected to be added tomorrow. Most of these cases are tied to small student gatherings, including a cluster within the Greek life community.

After the first positive case in this cluster was confirmed, Cornell Health and the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) quickly identified close contacts, all of whom were immediately placed in quarantine. Through Cornell’s adaptive testing protocol, additional cases were identified. All individuals who have tested positive remain in isolation and are receiving medical care.

While our testing process is making a big difference in our ability to identify and quickly isolate impacted individuals, this cluster serves as an important reminder that all members of our campus community must remain vigilant in following all public health guidelines. Even though most of our undergraduate students receive two surveillance tests per week, those tests represent a moment in time and, even when negative, should in no way signal that we can relax on following public health guidance. 

We know that the virus can spread quickly among groups of friends, and it is particularly easy to transmit indoors. With only a few days of in-person instruction and semifinals remaining before Thanksgiving break, I urge everyone to continue to follow all public health guidance: wear your mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands, and avoid being in groups while indoors.

As a reminder, whether on or off campus, Cornell prohibits any gatherings of more than 10 people, and New York state recently restricted gatherings in all private residences to no more than 10 people. Failure to adhere to these guidelines is a violation of Cornell’s Behavioral Compact. And, anyone who is in quarantine or isolation must receive approval from TCHD to travel, and therefore may be delayed in departing Ithaca for the upcoming break.

This is not our first experience with a student cluster. Early in the semester there were a few clusters identified. Our students responded immediately and successfully to rededicate themselves to all public health guidelines. In doing so, those clusters dissipated. I am confident that we can do the same with this latest cluster.

Don’t let your guards down. Together we can safely conclude the in-person portion of the semester and be proud of our collective success.


COVID-19 Resources

Students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea, or who believe that they may have been exposed, should immediately contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155. Do not go to a surveillance testing site if you are feeling ill.

Visit Cornell’s COVID-19 website for additional information related to prevention and care. The website also includes the university’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard, which is updated Monday-Friday to include information about testing and positive cases within the campus community.

Media Contact

Abby Butler