August 8, 2020

Letter to the Editor: RE: ‘Despite Risk of Over a Thousand Infections, Pollack Reiterates That Reopening is the ‘Best’ Path’

Print More

To the Editor:

In a recent article you provide a quotation from President Martha E. Pollack describing what she expects will happen this coming semester: “‘We anticipate finding many hundreds, and probably more than a thousand, of coronavirus cases in the Cornell community over the coming semester,’ Pollack wrote.”

According to the Tompkins County Department of Health, since the pandemic began, our county has had 228 people test positive for the virus and two deaths from the virus. Those two deaths were of non-residents who had been transferred to Tompkins County from the overloaded medical system of the metro-New York City area during the worst of the outbreak there. 228 cases in five and a half months. Now, Pres. Pollack expects more than 1000 infections in a little over three months? Does Pres. Pollack’s predicted 1000 infections “in the Cornell community” mean only among students, faculty and staff of Cornell? Or is that number meant to include the residents of Tompkins County who are not affiliated with Cornell but who will be unfortunate enough to contract the infection spreading through the “Cornell community”? What about deaths? According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the case fatality rate for the United States is 3.3 percent . In other words, three of any 100 people who become infected with Covid-19, 3 will die. In this regard, Tompkins County has been very fortunate indeed. Will this good fortune survive the astonishing increase in infections Pres. Pollack foresees coming?

To put this in the most blunt terms, if 1000 additional infections in a community that has so far seen only 228 is deemed tolerable, how many additional deaths are deemed tolerable in Pres. Pollack’s reopening plans?

David N. DeVries

Former Dean of Undergraduate Education, Arts and Sciences