Tompkins County Health Department announced 25 new cases on Wednesday night, 14 of which are associated with a previously-identified Cornell-related cluster.
The cluster, which was first reported last Friday, began with nine identified cases, and then grew by an additional 12 to 21, the health department said on Tuesday. With today’s 14 additional cases, the cluster has grown to a total of 35 — accounting for the vast majority of Cornell’s 42 new cases reported in the past week.
Four of the new cases are students from Tompkins Cortland Community College — which announced that it would go remote on Thursday and Friday to allow for contact tracing — while the remaining five cases are local residents.
The health department attributed the sharp increase to “multiple small gatherings where social distancing and mask-wearing were not adhered to.” Specific locations or the size of the gatherings were not disclosed.
The health department reiterated that even in small gatherings, individuals must adhere to mask wearing and social distancing procedures.
“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,” wrote TCHD Public Health Director Frank Kruppa in a press release.
The first Cornell cluster prompted a stern email from Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi on Sunday, who similarly urged students that “now is not the time to test boundaries.” According to Lombardi, some students were placed on temporary suspension for violating Cornell’s Behavioral Compact, which places strict limits on the size of gatherings and mandates the use of face coverings.
The previous largest single-day increase in Tompkins County cases was on March 27, when 16 new cases were announced. The county currently has 57 active COVID-19 cases — also the highest recorded number since the start of the pandemic.