CornellALERT: On campus COVID cluster identified; Ithaca campus moving to alert level yellow

Sept. 3, 2020

Members of the Cornell Community,

The cluster of COVID-19 identified by the Tompkins County Health Department on August 31, and a related cluster, has grown to a total of 39 cases. This includes a sub-cluster located on campus at the North Campus Townhouse Community on Jessup Road. A COVID-19 cluster is defined as five or more connected cases. This message is being sent to the campus community pursuant to the university’s emergency response procedures and the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act.

The individuals who have tested positive for COVID are in isolation and receiving medical monitoring. The university is working with the health department to identify additional potential exposures. For COVID-19, New York State Department of Health defines a close contact as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

As a result of increased COVID-19 cases within the student body, the Ithaca campus is now moved to COVID-19 alert level to Yellow. Effective immediately, student gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer (physical distancing and masks required). Visit the COVID-19 tracking dashboard for additional information.

Students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or believe they may have been exposed, should immediately contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155. Faculty or staff who are experiencing symptoms should seek care from their health care provider.

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 both indoors and outside.
  • 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.

Please visit Cornell’s COVID-19 website for additional information related to prevention and care. The website also includes the university’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard, which is updated Monday-Friday to include information about testing and positive cases within the campus community.