Cuomo: Colleges in New York must go remote when cases surge

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo makes announcement and holds media briefing at New York Medical College of Touro College & University System amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

With coronavirus cases cropping up at colleges nationwide, New York will require schools to switch to remote learning for two weeks when cases surge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Cuomo said he expects campus-based clusters now that many schools have welcomed students back for the fall semester. He mentioned “troubling reports” of students congregating after Syracuse University, Marist College and SUNY Plattsburgh each have recently suspended students after gatherings.

“When you have large congregations of people, anticipate a cluster,” Cuomo told reporters during a phone-in briefing. “We expect it. We want to be prepared for it.”

Under the new guidance, if over a two-week period colleges have 100 cases or if the number of cases equal 5% of their on-campus population, they must go to remote learning for two weeks. The school's situation will be reassessed at the end of the two weeks, Cuomo said.

Colleges nationwide have adopted strict student conduct rules and other measures to check the spread of the virus, though cases are still being detected on many campuses.

New York has largely managed to slow down the virus, with just under 1% of tests taken statewide coming back positive Wednesday. But Cuomo said he was concerned about an uptick in western New York, where the positive rate was 2%.

The administration said dozens of cases have been linked to a food processing plant in Chautauqua County.

Cuomo said there will be eight temporary rapid-test sites opening in Buffalo and western New York on Saturday.

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