Cornell University closes parts of campus amid Covid surge


Topline

Cornell University said on Tuesday it was immediately closing facilities to students, moving exams online, and shutting down all academic activities for undergraduates and events at its Ithaca, NY campus, just days before the end of term due to rapid spread of Covid-19 among the student population, including evidence of the highly contagious omicron variant.

Highlights

In one letter to the community, Cornell President Martha Pollack said the school’s Covid-19 “alert level” had been upgraded to red, indicating high risk.

The Ivy League institution recorded 469 active student cases on Sunday and a positivity rate of 3.01% for the week of Dec. 6, according to its Data.

Pollack said the tests identified evidence of the very contagious new omicron variant in “a significant number” of positive student tests on Monday, but that so far no infected student had become seriously ill.

All final exams will go online from Tuesday, libraries and gymnasiums have been closed to students, and the December graduate recognition ceremony has been canceled, among other measures.

No visitors or guests will be allowed on campus unless picking up a student for a break.

Offices and labs will remain open and mandatory surveillance testing will continue “business as usual” for employees.

Large number

97%. That’s the share of the population on Cornell’s campus that has been vaccinated, according to its Covid dashboard.

Key Context

Nearby neighbor Ithaca College remained at a “low to moderate” Covid risk level on Tuesday, according to its website. Tompkins County, which includes Ithaca, had 9,054 positive cases as of Tuesday, according to the local health department Data.

Further reading

Cornell University covid case: Ithaca campus closes after power surge” (CNN)

Cornell moves reviews online due to ‘substantial’ number of suspected omicron cases(ABC News)

Cornell moves all finals online, cancels events and closes facilities as Omicron pops up(NBC New York)

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