Julia Nagel / Sun Staff Photographer

Students pass by COVID-19 signage in October 2020. Days before spring semester classes have started, Cornell has moved to a yellow alert on campus.

February 5, 2021

Cornell Enters Yellow Alert, Case Spike Tied to Greek Life

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Before classes have even started, the University has entered alert level yellow.

Cornell has identified a cluster of at least 12 positive cases, President Martha Pollack wrote in an email Friday morning. The cluster was linked to a crowded party in Collegetown, which many members of Greek life organizations attended unmasked. The number of positive cases will likely grow as contacts from the party are tested and quarantined, Pollack wrote.

Most students who tested positive through surveillance testing since Monday are members of fraternities or sororities, Pollack wrote. More than 30 cases this week have been identified through surveillance testing, but it is unclear if all of these cases are tied to Greek life. Quarantine and isolation capacity is also down to 49 percent, according to Cornell’s COVID-19 dashboard.

As of Thursday, the COVID-19 dashboard reported 70 new positive cases since Jan. 28, including 16 cases on Feb. 3. 

“The disregard of public health guidelines, all of which are requirements of the student behavioral compact, by some of our students represents a significant risk to the health and safety of our community,” Pollack wrote. “It is essential that all students, including those in the fraternity and sorority system, abide by the compact, which includes cooperating with contact investigations.” 

 While the prevalence of the virus is low, the yellow alert indicates an increased risk of transmission throughout campus. Because of the yellow alert, Cornell may increase the frequency of surveillance testing for some students and further reduce the allowed density of on-campus spaces.