Following a spike of student COVID cases, Cornell moved to the yellow alert Friday afternoon for the first time since the beginning of the semester.
Cornell reported 194 new COVID cases in the past week, Provost Michael Kotlikoff, Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi and Vice President Mary Opperman wrote in a Friday email.
As cases spike on campus, Cornell is suspending University-sponsored student gatherings until further notice. The email also strongly discouraged students from attending large off-campus gatherings.
“This is a significant increase, most notably among our student population, and is directly related to travel over Thanksgiving break and unmasked student social gatherings,” the email read. “The data are deeply concerning as we approach finals and the end of the semester.”
Still, because cases are related to travel and off-campus social events, the email read, exams and other on-campus activities will continue as planned.
As of Wednesday, Cornell is reporting 90 active student cases on campus, according to the Cornell Tracking Dashboard. Cornell reported 58 total cases on Wednesday, the beginning of study period ahead of final exams. Most of the positive campus cases are breakthrough cases, the email continued, and the University is not reporting cases with serious illness or hospitalizations. Tompkins County currently has 10 active COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The upward trend on campus reflects trends locally and nationally. On Sunday, Tompkins County tallied triple digits of new cases for the first time since Aug. 31: Sunday saw 102 new cases, and then Friday saw 113.
There are currently 411 active cases in the county, higher than cases have been since Sept. 6.
Administrators urged the campus community to continue wearing a mask indoors and in crowded settings, as well as following their regular surveillance testing schedule. The email also encouraged students, faculty and staff to get a booster shot as soon as possible. The Food and Drug Administration approved booster shots for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines on Nov. 19 for all adults.
“As cases of COVID-19 on our campuses and nationally tick upward amid global concerns about the Omicron variant, we must continue to take necessary steps to keep our communities healthy and safe,” Kotlikoff, Lombardi and Opperman wrote. “Vaccines, boosters and masking reduce the spread and the likelihood of serious infection. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to wear masks indoors, even in small groups, and particularly in crowded spaces.”