Coronavirus Update, August 18, 2020

Ithaca College is not welcoming students back to campus for an in-person fall semester and will instead be extending online-only instruction.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning in an email to the campus community, reports the Ithaca Voice.** It is a drastic departure from what college administrators have continued to promote publicly –– just last week IC released a detailed reopening plan that would see students on campus as early as the end of August.

One of the reasons IC President Shirley Collado cites in her decision to close campus is the possibility of the COVID-19 virus forcing students to return home, and interrupting the semester. This has been the case for colleges across the United States that have been forced to close as coronavirus cases in their city spiked upon student arrival. At the end of her announcement Collado made it clear that online only instruction will only last through the fall and that IC fully intends to bring students back for the spring semester.

Ithaca College plans to shift scheduling for fall course offerings to adhere to those plans, offering classes that require more hands-on in-person learning in the spring. Notably, students in healthcare related fields of study will be allowed on-campus for limited in-person instruction.

All-campus virtual gatherings are set to be held this week to discuss what the move to online-only instruction will mean and give the campus community an opportunity to share their feedback about the decision.

Cayuga Health System is now making it easier for the public to view local coronavirus data through their online Coronavirus Tracking Tool, according to the Ithaca Voice.**

The new tool draws data daily from the regional COVID-19 Sampling Center including cases, hospitalizations, deaths, age and gender, and turns it into charts and graphs. Additionally the tool tracks Cayuga Health hospital capacity and supplies, monitoring preparedness for potential covid spikes.

The Coronavirus Tracking Tool comes into play as Cayuga Health continues to conduct coronavirus testing at high volumes, having completed over 65,000 tests to-date. And with students from Cornell University and other schools in the region returning for in-person fall semesters, testing rates continue to climb –– recently, the Sampling Center performed 1,625 tests in a single day.

To view the Cayuga Health Coronavirus Tracking Tool go online to, where data is updated every day.

Cornell, Ithaca College and TC3, are holding a joint virtual town hall Tuesday from 7-8pm, where they’ll provide campus updates and field questions from the community. The event features provosts and vice presidents overseeing academic, financial and student life sectors at the schools. Any listeners are welcome to join Tuesday's open zoom meeting.

Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, as of Tuesday there is 1 additional positive in Tompkins, and no new recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 6 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.

In Schuyler County, again there are no new cases of COVID-19 reported as of Tuesday, according to their Health Department. All active cases have recovered.

New York gyms and fitness centers can begin to reopen as early as August 24th — at the approval of the county's chief executive - county executive, administrator, manager, or chair of the local elected legislative body.

All gyms and fitness centers will be able to open by September 2, pending approval. The county chief executive may also delay the reopening of gyms and fitness centers until September 2, or beyond that date, in part, to provide time for required local health department inspections.

In guidance released Monday by the Governor, gyms hoping to reopen must follow new density parameters, and rigorous health and safety standards to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Facilities must abide by a 33% occupancy limit, enforce social distancing, and require appropriate face masks at all times. Additionally, gym-goers must sign-in with contact information, and undergo a required health screening.

**These particular news items are abridged versions of stories that first appeared on the Ithaca Voice, contributed by WRFI News team member & Ithaca Voice reporter, Anna Lamb.