Cornell University Reports 930 COVID cases, Omicron included
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Cornell University reported 930 new coronavirus cases among staff and students Dec. 7-13 with a “very high percentage” that were identified as Omicron variant cases in fully vaccinated individuals.
The university’s COVID-19 dashboard was updated on Tuesday afternoon, revealing that 227 positives had been identified on Saturday, and were followed by 214 on Sunday and 276 on Monday.
“Virtually every case of the Omicron variant to date has been found in students who have been fully vaccinated, a portion of whom had also received booster shot,” Joel Malina, the vice president of university relations, told CNN.
The main campus of the University in Ithaca, NY, moved to “Alert Level Red” on Tuesday, which indicates the transmission level was high. Final exams were moved online, the December 18 recognition ceremony for graduates was cancelled and social gatherings were cancelled.
Athletic events were also canceled. Most visitors are prohibited from campus, but labs and offices will be accessible.
“While I want to provide assurance that, to date, we have not seen severe illness in any of our infected students, we do have an obligation to play a part in limiting the spread of the disease to the wider community,” Martha Pollack, PhD, president of the university, said in a statement regarding the new measures.
“It is certainly very depressing to be forced to make these decisions,” she said. “However we have been determined to keep up with the latest research since the outbreak of the pandemic and have done all that we can to safeguard the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”
CNN reported that Cornell has mandatory vaccination policies. There are exceptions for religious or medical reasons. All students, vaccinated or not, must undergo surveillance testing. All students must wear masks in the indoors.
Employees must be vaccinated before January 18. According to the university’s most recent data on vaccination 97% of the people “on-campus” are fully vaccinated. The university doesn’t require students to get a booster shot however, officials are encouraging people to get an additional dose when outbreaks of disease occur, CNN reported.
Pollack stated that although testing has shown the Omicron variant’s signature identifier in the case of a “substantial” number of virus samples however, the evidence is “preliminary.” The samples will now undergo genome sequencing.
“While we wait for confirmation sequencing information to be sure that the source is Omicron but we are proceeding as if it is,” she said.
Other colleges have taken steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus on campus According to The New York Times . This week, Middlebury College in Vermont changed to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. DePaul University in Chicago, and Southern New Hampshire University both announced that they will switch to remote instruction when classes resume in January.
CNN: “Cornell University reports more than 900 cases of Covid-19 this week. A majority of them are Omicron variant cases in fully vaccinated students.”
Cornell University: “COVID-19 Respond: COVID-19 Monitoring,” “COVID-19 Updating: Moving to alert red, making changes in exams,” “COVID-19 Reply: The Vaccination Program at Cornell.”
The New York Times: “Cornell University goes on high alert after spotting evidence of the Omicron variant on campus.”
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