COVID-19 cases diminish at Union College weeks after campus quarantine

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Nearly three weeks after ending a two-week campus quarantine amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases, Union College on Tuesday tested over 800 students and staff and found no new infections.

The college was down to five active cases and seven students quarantined on campus, with the most recent positive case identified Feb. 12, according to the college’s COVID-19 dashboard of testing and infection data.

The relatively low infection numbers come after the college started its winter term last month in the midst of an apparent surge in cases among students. The college has already recorded 125 cases among students and staff since Jan. 1, compared to 46 positive cases all of the fall term. The college imposed a strict two-week “campus quarantine,” limiting movement to and from campus, which was ultimately lifted at the end of January as numbers started to improved and have continued to do so.

“Compliance with our health and safety protocols by students, faculty and staff has played a major role in getting our numbers under control,” Union spokesperson Phil Wajda said Thursday. “However, we understand that what we went through when our numbers were climbing and we were forced to have a campus-wide quarantine does not prevent a recurrence. So we will continue to remain vigilant.”

Skidmore College has also reported few new cases in recent weeks, reporting one active case as of Tuesday, and not recording any new cases this week after approaching 1,000 tests administered for the week.

At SUNY Albany, where students started the new semester earlier this month and were required to get tested before returning to campus, officials reported 38 new positive cases among students and staff since Saturday, with 29 of those cases reported on Wednesday, according to the SUNY COVID-19 dashboard that records testing results from campuses across the state. The new cases reported Wednesday, the most in a single day since the fall, lifted the 14-day rolling average of test positivity for students to its highest level, nearly 1 percent, since before the holiday break.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras on Wednesday highlighted that the statewide college system had administered over 1 million tests on campuses across the state since schools reopened to students in the fall. The statewide 14-day rolling average among students is about 0.5 percent.

Malatras has also called for strict enforcement of policies prohibiting larger student gatherings, especially parties. Earlier this week, Malatras thanked local officials as he highlighted student arrests in connection to large parties at SUNY Cortland, calling on students to continue adhering to health and safety precautions this spring.

“While I understand the fatigue and frustration of dealing with COVID, this is reckless and unacceptable behavior,” Malatras said in a statement Monday responding to news of the parties. “We cannot let a handful of selfish individuals ruin the semester and shutdown in-person learning for everyone else. We’ve come too far and we cannot go back. There is light at the end of the tunnel only if we stick together and respect the rules and one another.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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