For the past school year, students, professors and faculty have been refreshing Cornell’s COVID dashboard, eager to know if cases are surging or sliding, if courses would remain in-person or return behind a screen.
But with nearly half of those on campus now vaccinated and weeks of low case counts, those days could soon be over.
After a month of climbing COVID cases that reached a record high number of new daily cases on campus since reopening, widespread vaccinations on campus and warmer weather that has allowed for socializing outdoors have coincided with dwindling case levels.
Throughout March, Cornell reported 314 cases — a case level that led the University to move to the yellow alert level and transition one Cornell academic program to virtual instruction.
From April 1 to April 27, the University reported 47 cases on its COVID-19 tracking dashboard, and nearly half of the campus community is vaccinated — a leap toward a fall semester once again filled with packed lecture halls with clanging keyboards.
Since the beginning of April, cases have also dropped in Tompkins County, which is more than 40 percent vaccinated according to the Tompkins County Health Department. Cases peaked in January, after many residents traveled and gathered indoors for holiday celebrations. As cases among local residents decreased, students drove up cases at the end of January and again in March.
As of April 26, 5,850 students are vaccinated, receiving both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Cornell COVID-19 tracking dashboard. A similar number of faculty and staff –– 5,142 —have also been vaccinated.
The number of students who have been vaccinated will likely increase in the coming week, as students who became eligible for the vaccine after April 6 — when everyone over the age of 16 in New York State could sign up for their shot — receive their second doses.
With more than 17,000 students studying on campus, about a third are vaccinated. This fraction of students approaches the University’s threshold for herd immunity, which is 50 percent of students, faculty and staff — a metric that will shape the blueprint of the fall semester.
Jyothsna Bolleddula ’24 contributed reporting.