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Cornell University goes to 'alert level red' and shuts down its campus over spike in coronavirus

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Photo by Yiming Chen/Getty Images

Cornell University shut down its campus in Ithaca, New York, over a spike in coronavirus cases among students, which included some Omicron variant infections in fully vaccinated students.

School officials reported that they had documented about 903 cases of coronavirus in students and that many of them appeared to be due to the Omicron variant.

Cornell President Martha Pollack announced the action in a statement Tuesday.

"While faculty and staff case numbers currently remain low, just last evening our COVID-19 testing lab team identified evidence of the highly contagious Omicron variant in a significant number of Monday’s positive student samples. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, the university is moving to Alert Level Red," said Pollack in her statement.

Pollack said that the finding of Omicron cases was still preliminary but that the university was moving forward as if it were confirmed. She also noted that it appeared to have a high level of transmissibility even if it caused "generally milder cases."

She said that the university would host its final exams online and cancel university activities and university-sponsored events. Libraries will be closed, athletic competitions will be canceled, and gyms will be closed as well.

The announcement also outlined strengthened social distancing guidelines for the students. Pollack said that no students had yet developed serious illness after catching coronavirus.

Cornell sophomore Vlad Asriev said in an interview with WSYR-TV that the university probably should have acted much sooner to curb the spread of the pandemic among the students.

"It is obviously extremely dispiriting to have to take these steps," concluded Pollack. "However, since the start of the pandemic, our commitment has been to follow the science and do all we can to protect the health of our faculty, staff, and students."

Here's a local news report about the Cornell micron shutdown:

Cornell Code Red www.youtube.com

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