Prevention, Testing & Care
As the Ithaca campus reactivates, a robust virus screening program will be critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our community. More details around this testing program will be provided over the coming weeks, but the protocol will include screening prior to and upon arrival to campus, and ongoing, frequent screening, with isolation/quarantine/contact tracing as needed. Our goal will be to identify infected individuals and quickly isolate them and those with whom they had close contact. Compliance with the testing program will be an absolute requirement for all students, whether living in on-campus housing or in the local Ithaca community.
In addition, Cornell encourages all students, faculty and staff to take responsibility for their own health and the health of others by adopting habits to prevent and slow the spread of communicable diseases, including COVID-19. Public health officials advise the following actions to protect yourself and others:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if washing is not an option.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others when you are sick; call ahead before seeking medical care at Cornell Health or elsewhere.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Practice physical distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart from others), minimizing close contact among groups of people and avoiding contact with others if you feel ill.
- New York state requires everyone to wear a face covering when in public and unable to maintain physical distancing measures. In addition, Cornell has specific guidelines about when face coverings are required when on campus.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms, which most often appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continue to update the list of symptoms and related guidance as more information becomes available.
What should I do if I’m feeling ill?
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath, or if you have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (or who is currently being tested), please do the following:
- Ithaca students who have flu-like symptoms should call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24/7) for consultation.
- Cornell Tech students may call Weill Cornell Medicine at 646-962-7300 and identify yourself as a Cornell Tech student. The call center staff will schedule a virtual appointment for you with a doctor, which will be conducted on the Weill Cornell Medicine portal app via video phone conference.
- Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider.
Where can I get tested?
Testing is appropriate for individuals who are concerned about symptoms and/or who have had exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If you are tested, your health care provider will take swabs from your nose and throat, and depending on your symptoms, may take blood samples, X-rays or other tests. Samples are then sent to a lab for testing. It can take from 24 hours up to a week to receive the results, depending on the lab. While awaiting test results, the individual is expected to be in isolation.
Cornell Health is able to test students who have been pre-screened by a Cornell Health provider over the phone. Students can call 607-255-5155 to consult with a provider and be pre-screened for testing. Learn more on Cornell Health’s Coronavirus Updates webpage.
Community members that meet TCHD guidelines for testing are encouraged to visit the Cayuga Health Sampling Site at The Shops at Ithaca Mall.
All New York health plans – including Cornell's Student Health Plans (SHP and SHP+) – will cover COVID-19 testing at no cost to the plan member.
Is there a difference between being in quarantine and being in isolation?
While both isolation and quarantine refer to methods of preventing the spread of illness, they do not mean the same thing. Isolation refers to separating a sick person with a contagious disease like COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine means separating a healthy person or group of healthy people away from others due to exposure to a contagious disease like COVID-19. The Tompkins County Health Department has provided guidance on both quarantine and isolation.