After a significant viral outbreak before the winter break in December, levels of COVID-19 infection at Cornell University dropped significantly as Omicron emergence slowed and students returned to campus for the spring semester.
However, as the number of new cases in New York State began to rise, the campus was again reporting a viral resurgence. This week, the colonel upgraded his COVID-19 warning system to “yellow,” indicating that infections are on the rise and virus outbreaks are above predicted levels.
Between March 17 and March 23, the colonel recorded 515 positive COVID-19 infections among students, staff and teachers, according to university data.
Provost Michael Kotlikoff said in a statement on Wednesday that “the Kovid-19 case on the Ithaca campus is growing beyond our expectations, indicating a significant spread of the virus on campus.” “This growing infection may be due to a number of factors, including relaxation of the need for masks, the emergence of the BA.2 variant, and increased social activity.”
The data shows that 97% of the student population has been vaccinated, while 92% of eligible students have been vaccinated
At this point, all non-vaccinated or unbosted students, faculty and staff must participate in the surveillance test. The colonel provides notable test kits to community members who are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.
“Most of the positive cases reported on campus come from significant tests, which tells us that there are more asymptomatic cases in our community,” Kotlikoff wrote.
The increase comes less than two weeks after the removal of the mask mandate for most school locations, although community members still have to wear the mask in certain settings, such as in classrooms and laboratories, in healthcare and testing facilities, and on public transport.
In the wake of the resurgence, the university strongly encourages community members to test before and after the spring break, which is not the case for another week.
With growing viral infections abroad, federal officials are warning that the number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States could rise in the coming weeks, as the Omicron submarine, BA.2, has spread across the country.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Wednesday that her agency was watching New England and New York City “cautiously” for the BA.2 variant because they saw a slight increase in COVID-19 presence in wastewater surveillance.
“Currently, we are seeing a modest increase in sites reporting an increase in virus levels in some community wastewater. Walensky said the number of cases is now increasing and some are being admitted to hospitals.
Walensky said officials have focused on admissions metrics in most hospitals to guide the possible future direction of masks and restrictions.
“If the cases continue to escalate, we have the framework to implement additional levels of prevention at the local level so that individuals and communities can be protected quickly,” Walensky said.
Many experts warn that the virus could already spread rapidly across the country.
Dozens of state shutters have moved to public testing sites, and more COVID-19 tests are now available at pharmacies and at home through the federal testing program. Most Americans are not reporting their results to authorities, and as such, experts say the total number of infections is probably significantly lower.
Nationwide, BA.2 now accounts for more than a third of all new COVID-19 cases. Many top health officials, including Walenski and the country’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fawcett, have said they hope that within the next few weeks, BA.2 will become a major form in the United States.
Although groundbreaking COVID-19 infections have increased during omicon waves, data from the CDC show that vaccines still dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus.
In January, unvaccinated adults were 9 times more likely to die from COVID-19, and six times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated individuals.
In addition, unwanted adults are about 21 times more likely to die of COVID-19 in January and 12 times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated and boosted adults.