Julia Nagel / Sun Staff Photographer

Surveillance testing and physical distancing will remain mainstays to keep the University at COVID-19 alert level green. It moved back to green on Monday morning.

February 22, 2021

Cornell Returns to Green Alert Level as Case Numbers Fall

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Following weeks of fluctuating case numbers, Cornell has returned to COVID-19 alert level green.  

The return to the “new normal” level comes more than two weeks after a cluster tied to Greek life pushed campus into the yellow alert. The University recorded 14 new positive cases on campus last week, continuing the decrease of average new cases rate that started after Feb. 8. 

This decline in cases mirrors Tompkins County Health Department data, which shows both declining daily active case and daily new positive case rates after a large spike in January and a smaller spike around Feb. 8. Feb. 22 saw just seven new positive cases in the county, compared to a Jan. 20 spike of 62 positives. 

Because of the state guidelines, the two-week on-campus positivity rate is just 11 cases — as it includes only students taking in-person classes and faculty and staff approved to be on campus. As of Monday, quarantine and isolation capacity is 67 percent available, according to Cornell’s COVID-19 Dashboard.   

The green alert will expand in-person activities, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, wrote in a Monday morning email. Lombardi also explained that the University hopes to continue to ease restrictions in the “near future,” if virus prevalence remains low on campus.

Beginning Tuesday, fitness centers will open again for students, alongside Helen Newman Pool and Bowling, Lindseth Climbing Center, Barton Hall, Lynah Rink and Reis Tennis Center. But intramural sports group activities, club sports and student organization programs will remain virtual.

The email added that varsity athletes can begin sport-specific activity, conditioning and weight training as designated by their coaches and Cornell Athletics. But resuming these activities is bittersweet, as the Ivy League officially canceled spring sports on Feb. 18.

Even as cases stabilized on campus from the initial spike, Lombardi urged the Cornell community to continue following public health guidelines, including face covering and physical distancing.

“While these changes allow for increased activity and community, they do still require us to remain dedicated and committed to preserving the health of our campus as we make these modifications,” Lombardi wrote. “In-person connections are an important part of our individual and collective well-being, and our diligence in engaging responsibly will ensure that we can benefit from these connections for the remainder of the semester.”