Officials concerned about UAlbany’s 24-hour COVID spike

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Categories: -The Daily Gazette, News

The University at Albany on Thursday night reported a “very concerning” spike in COVID-19 cases, with 31 positive cases reported within a 24-hour span.

The spike, in which “clusters have been identified within athletics and in off-campus student housing,” led to the indefinite pausing of all athletic activities on campus.

And now, city and county officials say a rise in cases at UAlbany can lead to the school’s shutdown this semester. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that New York colleges with over 100 positive cases must report it to the state Department of Health immediately. On Aug. 29, he announced that schools must transition to online learning for 14 days if more than 100 positive cases are reported, or if there’s an outbreak of 5 percent or more of the school’s population.

As of Wednesday, only SUNY Oneonta reached more than 100 cases, with SUNY Fredonia at 81 and the University at Buffalo at 63.

“I’m deeply concerned by the spike in COVID-19 cases reported last evening by SUNY Albany,” Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said Friday. “I have spoken directly with President [Havidán] Rodríguez and reinforced my concern for Albany residents who may come in contact with infected students in our stores, restaurants and parks.”

Sheehan said that the city has “implored students to abide by social distancing rules, wear a mask and avoid large gatherings.”

She added: “It is clear that some are not listening. My message to students at each of our city’s educational institutions is simple: Mask up or shut down. We will continue to partner with UAlbany to keep our community healthy.”

County Executive Dan McCoy announced Friday that the number of confirmed cases in Albany County is now 2,627 to date, 23 more than Thursday.

“In less than 48 hours, 31 positive cases of COVID-19 were identified among UAlbany students,” McCoy said. “While some of these have been previously reported and some are not county residents, we also announced 23 new positive cases in the county since just yesterday. That’s the highest daily number since Aug. 12. Right now, we’re at a crossroads to determine the future of in-person learning at the university.”

Rodríguez said those who have tested positive for the virus are being monitored in quarantine.

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