By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www. AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Zero cases of COVID-19 were reported in Otsego County Monday, Nov. 2. Three cases reported Tuesday, Nov. 3.
The spikes at Hartwick College and in Cooperstown following a 75-person wedding have, for now, quieted down.
“It’s slowed down considerably,” said Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director.
Tuesday, Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta both reported one case each. The other two cases were in the City of Oneonta and Unadilla.
The weekend brought 11 cases, including five Hartwick students and one SUNY student.
That’s down considerably from the 26 Hartwick cases traced to Red’s Ale House, the weekend of Oct. 16-17. Two of those infected were staff at the bar.
Hartwick moved to take-out only dining and suspending the use of gyms, but continued to offer in-person instruction, according to Karen McGrath, vice president/enrollment.
No faculty member tested positive, and though the numbers crept up, they never reached the state’s 5 percent threshold – 58 cases – which would have required the campus to close and pivot to remote instruction.
Students and staff are tested biweekly, and McGrath said that the majority of cases were asymoptomatic.
If a student was showing symptoms, however, he or she was tested off-campus, she added.
Bond also said that the county Health Department deployed rapid-testing machines to the college to assist with testing.
If students test positive, they are placed in isolation, either on campus, separate from the rest of the students, or at home.
The cases in Oneonta and Unadilla were not connected to any other outbreak, and no one has been hospitalized.
As of presstime Tuesday evening, there were 39 active cases countywide, the majority of them among students.
Last week, the county topped 1,000 cases, with 1,025 total cases since the first cases were reported in March.
With three weeks left until students return home for Thanksgiving break, Bond is hoping they’ll consider their nightlife.
“Bars are not a good idea,” she said. “They might not be as constructed as restaurants, where you sit at a table and eat. You move around, and there’s a much higher risk.”
But students may be going home for Thanksgiving, Bond suggests that residents postpone any travel or gatherings. “I had to tell my family that there was no big dinner or visits from out-of-town, even in New York” she said.
And with the cold weather settling in, Bond recommends that everyone wear masks in any indoor setting that isn’t at home, such as work or school, where closed windows mean less ventilation.
“We’re going to be inside more,” she said. “Everyone needs to be wearing a mask, even if you are sitting six feet apart. It reduces the risk of transmission considerably.”
“It’s not easy for anybody,” she continued. “But until there’s a vaccine, we’re going to continue to see levels of infection.”