GENEVA — The Ontario County Health Department is reporting eight new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and that all of them are related to Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
A total of 19 HWS students have tested positive for the virus, the health department said Monday. And while the Colleges said the numbers right now do not warrant such action, a campus-wide quarantine with full remote learning could be initiated if the numbers continue increase.
The health department said the eight new cases, all within the 19 to 29 age category, were “community acquired and related to a close contact interaction with an existing positive COVID-19 case.”
“Ontario County Public Health is working very closely with the College,” the agency said. “The college is isolating positive COVID-19 cases, testing and quarantining appropriate contacts.”
On Monday night, HWS President Joyce Jacobsen and Vice President for Campus Life Robb Flowers issued a letter to the college community on the developments and confirmed the numbers reported by Public Health.
“On Sunday, we reported that we had four positive cases of COVID-19 among students,” they said. “Since then, and with the assistance of the Ontario County Health Department, we have instituted a thorough contact tracing protocol and subsequent testing through the Broad Institute. This has resulted in the identification of an additional 14 positive cases among students, for a total of 18 active cases. All of the students who tested positive are in isolation in a separate facility under the care of staff and health care practitioners. Currently, only one student is symptomatic and, so far, those symptoms have not required special medical attention. This is obviously a challenging situation for these students and their families, and our hearts go out to them.
“We have quarantined 86 students who had close contact with the students who tested positive,” they continued. “Recall that a quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in case they become sick. Isolation separates people who are sick and/or contagious from people who are not sick. We are monitoring and retesting students in quarantine as well.”
Jacobsen and Flowers said “students have in general been diligent in their adherence to safety protocols, including avoiding holding large gatherings. If everyone continues to be conscientious in the use of face coverings, social distancing and enhanced hygiene, we should emerge from this period with very few additional cases. Should the situation escalate substantially, we would ask all students on and off campus to remain in their residence halls and off-campus housing for a 14-day, campus-wide quarantine with a shift to full remote learning during that time. Right now, we do not anticipate that happening, but want to be clear what the next step could be should we see a dramatic increase in the number of positive cases.”
An order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo requires that if colleges have 100 cases, or if the number of cases equal 5% of their population or more, they must go to remote learning for two weeks.