Public Health Advisory: COVID-19 Cases on the Rise

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

Over the last several days, our campus surveillance testing has identified a very significant and troubling increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases among our students. This afternoon, we will report 44 new COVID infections on the COVID dashboard. Based on case investigations and timing, the data strongly suggests that the current surge of infection largely stems from off-campus parties and gatherings that occurred last weekend.

Our public health professionals are extremely concerned with the current situation. Yesterday alone, we moved more students into isolation housing than was typical of an entire week during the fall semester. If this pace and scale of new infection continue, the University will have no choice but to implement additional and likely dramatic preventative actions, designed to break the current chain of transmission and spread among our student population. I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that all members of our community act now to undercut the current outbreak. Specifically:

1.   Stay Vigilant: Follow these simple steps: 1) Wear your mask, always! 2) Keep your distance. 3) Do not gather in groups larger than 10. 4) Avoid travel outside of Central New York. 5) Monitor your symptoms and stay home if you feel ill. 6) Participate in testing and contact tracing procedures immediately and honestly. 7) Adhere to all directives from state and local authorities and the University. These actions are simple and selfless and keep you and those around you safe.

2.   Get Vaccinated ASAP: As of Tuesday, April 6, all individuals living in New York over the age of 16 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Put simply, vaccination is the best protection against the spread of COVID-19. A widely vaccinated community safeguards the health, wellness and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and helps our University return to more normal operations. Please visit the New York State COVID-19 vaccine website or the Onondaga County COVID-19 vaccine website to schedule your appointment at your earliest convenience when you are eligible. Important reminder: Many of our students, faculty and staff are likely eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination right now due to other eligibility categories, such as preexisting conditions. Please review all other eligibility categories to determine if you can schedule your appointment ahead of the April 6 vaccination expansion.

3.   Sign Up on the Vaccination Waitlist: As a reminder, Onondaga County occasionally has extra doses available during their clinic days. For that reason, the county has created a waitlist for individuals to sign up to be notified on short notice, if/when extra vaccine is available. Those who sign up on the waitlist will receive an email notifying them of extra doses and allowing them to register for an appointment. If you are interested in being included on the county’s vaccine waitlist, visit the county’s Extra Dose Vaccine Waiting List page.

The University has petitioned New York State to allow us to hold on-campus vaccination clinics to expedite the vaccination of our community, including students. We are currently awaiting a response from New York State. Until then, securing vaccination appointments through the state and county, combined with good public health behaviors, is the most immediate path to address our current situation.

I appreciate that for many of us, watching or reading the news is generating a sense of relief and optimism that the end of the pandemic is in sight. While I share that optimism, the fact is that COVID remains a real and present risk to our staff, faculty and students. Please do everything in your power to keep yourself, those around you and the broader Central New York community safe and healthy.

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation