Two SUNY Oneonta students contract COVID

Morris

SUNY Oneonta announced Tuesday evening that two students tested positive for COVID-19.

Both students live off campus, according to a media release. The college arranged for one of its residence halls to exclusively house students who test positive for COVID-19, and the Otsego County Department of Health will work with the students to determine whether to isolate at home or on campus.

The county health department will determine when the affected students will be able to resume normal activities and will also attempt to notify others with whom they may have had contact.

These are the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the college since April, when three employees tested positive, according to the release.

“While all of us had hoped to avoid this situation, we have spent the better part of the summer preparing for it,” said SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris. “Today’s quick response to this unfortunate news is the result of our strong partnership with the DOH and the effort our campus invested in our Fall 2020 Re-start Plan.”

“I wish both the students a speedy recovery,” said Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig.

In a Monday evening video posted to his Facebook page, Herzig reported that the first weekend since students’ return was “very bad” and that “hundreds, if not thousands of students were downtown partying.”

“I have no doubt that the vast majority of young people are cognizant of the risks and are taking this very seriously,” he told The Daily Star on Tuesday. “But even if 10% of the 5,000 (students) don’t take it seriously, it still poses a danger to everyone.”

Herzig criticized SUNY Oneonta administrators for blocking his attempts to collaborate on COVID prevention and response measures and to communicate directly with the student body.

“Enforcement shouldn’t be our biggest tool,” he said in the Monday video. “Really it should be communication, it should be education, it should be appealing to the people’s sense of community. But if enforcement is the only tool we’re left with, that’s what we’ll use.”

Two students at SUNY Cobleskill also have tested positive, and were quarantined, according to Schoharie County Department of Health officials.

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