Coronavirus Update, August 31, 2020

On Friday it was announced that Cornell has seen its first cluster of COVID-19 cases as a result of people not following social distance or mask-wearing protocols at several small social gatherings. According to the Cornell Daily Sun, the Tompkins County Health Department identified a nine-person cluster in this instance. Generally, a COVID-19 cluster is indicated by five or more connected cases. According to the Governor’s office, New York colleges and universities must return to remote learning with limited on-campus activity for two weeks if 5 percent or 100 individuals test positive for COVID-19 within a two-week period.

News of Cornell’s first cluster of COVID cases comes as 105 people on the SUNY Oneonta campus have tested positive for the coronavirus. Per the Governor’s order, SUNY Oneonta has shifted to remote learning for at least the next two weeks. 

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the temporary closing along with the suspension of several students thought to have contributed to the virus' spread. WSKG reports that last week, several dozen students were suspended at SUNY Plattsburgh -- although in-person classes were not cancelled at that school.

Malatras says that students will be ticketed for parties and that the SUNY system is “moving very aggressively with those cases, with those parties on or off campus.”

Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, the latest numbers, released Sunday from the Tompkins County Health Department, indicate that over the weekend there were 12 new additional positives - 9 of which were linked to the cluster at Cornell University. There were also 4 new recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 19 active cases of novel coronavirus in Tompkins.

In Schuyler County, there are no new cases of COVID-19 reported as of Monday, according to their Health Department. Two active cases remain in the county.

The City of Ithaca will return to pre-COVID parking fees as of Tuesday, September 8th. On-street parking will revert to $1.50 per hour and there will no longer be an hour's free parking at city parking garages.

The city will continue to allow free short-term parking at five downtown locations so businesses can provide curbside delivery service for customers while they remain in their cars. Two of the permitted short-term parking areas are on Seneca Street, at the intersections with Tioga Street and also near the Dewitt Mall. The other spots are on Buffalo Street near the Dewitt Mall, Cayuga Street at the Commons, and Green Street in front of Press Bay Alley.

For further information and updates about downtown Ithaca parking, visit the website

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteer Joanne Izbicki