Tompkins County reported 25 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, its highest single-day increase since late March.
A majority of the new cases (14) are connected to a cluster involving Cornell University students. That cluster has grown to 35 positive stems and is linked to gatherings where attendees did not wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines.
There has been a second cluster identified that includes Cornell and Tompkins Cortland Community College students. There are eight positive cases in this cluster.
Tompkins Cortland Community College announced Wednesday that it would move to remote learning for the remainder of the week. Six students at the college have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the college, three of the students are in mandatory isolation in their off-campus apartment. One student hasn't been on campus this semester and another is a student who lives in a residence hall and has been moved to an isolation room.
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said Wednesday that there is an investigation into whether the students violated the college's code of conduct. The school is using SUNY Upstate Medical University's pool testing to contain the virus.
"I applaud (President Orinthia Montague) and her team for developing a comprehensive response plan, their quick and decisive action, and expanding surveillance testing in order to keep the entire college community safe," Malatras added.
There have been other COVID-19 cases reported involving college students across the state. At SUNY Oneonta, the campus is closed after a spike in cases. As of Wednesday, the school said there have been 289 positive cases since the start of the fall semester.
The impact of the new cases extends beyond the campuses. In Tompkins County, there have been 59 new COVID-19 cases reported in the last eight days. In the month-and-a-half before that period, the county had 51 new cases.
With 25 new cases on Wednesday, the county had its largest single-day increase since March 27, when there were 16 new cases. There were five more cases reported on Thursday.
Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County's public health director, urged those who attend gatherings to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
"We know the majority of students are adhering to campus guidance and are doing exactly what they have been asked to do by their respective institution," Kruppa said. "A small number of people have had a large negative impact on our community and their peers. This is not the way any of us hoped to start the semester, but it is the reality we are living."
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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