Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

Campus has returned to level green after a few days on yellow alert.

November 19, 2020

After Cases Drop, Cornell Moves Back to Level Green

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The University has now declared itself back to a “new normal.”

According to Cornell’s COVID-19 dashboard, campus has returned to level green, the level the University has stayed at for most of the semester. Cornell spent the last six days on yellow alert, the second-lowest alert level.

On Nov. 13, the University placed itself on yellow alert after a spike in positive tests among students — the second time this semester Cornell was on yellow alert. Cornell had seen a rise in cases leading up to the Nov. 13 designation. There were six positive tests on Nov. 11, 14 positives on Nov. 12 and nine positives on Nov. 13.

A cluster was identified within Greek life which caused 10 positive cases and was one of the three clusters that the Tompkins County Health Department said were the main drivers of the rise in recent cases. One of the other clusters came from one household, and the third came from a religious group.

Since the yellow alert announcement, campus has seen a decline in cases, with six positives on Nov. 14, two positives on Nov. 15 and 16 and one positive on Nov. 17. As of Thursday, there are 41 on-campus positives, and due to recent quarantining of those who tested positive or were contact traced, quarantine capacity at Cornell is now 86 percent available.

The other time Cornell was on yellow alert was Sept. 3, the second day of classes, due to a cluster found among student athletes. At the time, there were 47 cases on campus and 61 across Tompkins County. Cornell stayed on yellow alert for 13 days before switching back to green on Sept. 16.

Tompkins County reached its highest number of active COVID-19 cases in a day on Nov. 15 at 142 cases. Cases in the county have since dropped slightly, with the health department reporting 137 active cases on Nov. 18.

These new cases in the county and at Cornell have come as cases have been rising in the state and across the country. Nationally, cases have spiked across the United States, consistently reaching over 100,000 positives per day.

New York State has seen a spike in cases over the past month after keeping the pandemic at bay for much of the summer. After rising cases caused the state to qualify for its own travel advisory list, New York State changed its travel policies to allow travelers from noncontiguous states to “test out” of a 14-day quarantine.

These new rules also brought Cornell to update its travel policies. Those from New York and contiguous states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont — do not need to quarantine, but do need to test negative twice in order enter campus. Those from noncontiguous states must test negative before returning to campus, and then must quarantine in Ithaca until they receive two negative tests.