SUNY Oneonta to close for 2 weeks after 105 test positive for coronavirus

The campus of SUNY Oneonta will shut down for two weeks after more than 100 people in the college community tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced Sunday.

The positive cases at SUNY Oneonta represent about 3% of the students and faculty on campus this semester, said Jim Malatras, the chancellor of the state university system.

Malatras, who joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a conference call, said five students have been suspended because of large parties that were held last week. He said three free rapid-result testing sites will be set up in Oneonta starting Wednesday.

"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."

The shutdown of the central New York campus is the first in New York state, where most colleges are opening with a mix of in-person and online instruction.

Cuomo, a Democrat, urged students to follow virus safety guidelines and avoid large gatherings.

“I get it,” he said. ”You go back to college. You want to see your friends. Part of the college experience is socializing.”

But he said a 3% infection rate is too high because the virus can spread quickly in a congregate setting like a college.

Cuomo said New York state's overall coronavirus infection rate on Saturday was 0.69% based on 100,000 tests conducted statewide. New York's infection rate has been below 1% every day for more than three weeks.

With the Associated Press.

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