New York has seen a slight dip in COVID-19 clusters with assistance of swat team
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo late Sunday evening deployed a SWAT team to SUNY Oneonta to contain a COVID-19 cluster that has developed there. The State team will include 71 contact tracers and eight case investigators. New York State will also open three free, rapid testing sites in the city of Oneonta. The sites will be open to all city residents by appointment, and results come back in 15 minutes. The site locations will be announced tomorrow.
The state action comes as SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced a two-week suspension of in-person instruction at the SUNY Oneonta campus to help address the cluster.
“Colleges are the canary in the coal mine, and a 3 percent infection rate is high in a congregate situation, similar to a dense urban environment where you have people taking public transportation. That’s why we’re deploying state resources to contain the new COVID cluster at SUNY Oneonta,” Governor Cuomo said. “I think the Chancellor is doing the exact right thing at Oneonta and I think he’s taking the right actions across SUNY, and I think the private colleges should really follow the example.”
“Individual responsibility plays into the collective good, so your individual actions have enormous consequences on everyone else in your college community,” SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said. “Five students in Oneonta have been suspended for holding parties against the college policy. Three organizations, campus organizations, have been suspended and we’re going to be tough not because we want to ruin their fun, but this is a different time and this goes to what other campuses have been doing.”
New York State’s Guidance for Infection Rates on College Campuses
Schools must return to remote learning with limited on-campus activity for two weeks when 5 percent or 100 individuals test positive for COVID-19 within a two-week period. After two weeks, if the local health department finds the college has demonstrated that it cannot contain the number of cases, then they could continue to require remote learning, or impose other mitigation measures in consultation with the State Department of Health. During that time, athletic activities and other extracurricular activities must be suspended, and dining hall options must move to take-out only.
If clusters of positive cases emerge on particular areas of a campus while still below 5 percent or under 100 students, but strain the college’s ability to isolate and contact trace, the college must return to 100 percent distance learning with limited on-campus activity. The local department of health or State Department of Health may order colleges to suspend on-campus activities upon a finding of the college’s inability to control the outbreak, even under the metric.