By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – ‘Enough!”
As photos of another off-campus SUNY Oneonta party made the rounds on social media, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras issued that one-word press release.
Meanwhile, a 79-year-old has died following a bout with COVID-19, with another hospitalized over
Neither the death – the seventh in the county since March – nor the hospitalization were related to the SUNY outbreak.
“(The deceased) had been on isolation after testing positive for COVID,” said Heidi Bond, county public health director.
Although the spread from the college outbreak has begun to slow, four cases of COVID-19 were reported by the school on Friday, Sept. 18, another four on Saturday, Sept 19, but no cases since Sunday, Sept 20.
One student remains in isolation on campus, and two students are in quarantine on campus awaiting test results.
On Monday, Sept. 21, three cases were reported in the Town of Butternuts, all from the same family following travel out of state.
Two of the SUNY students in the photo were identified and suspended by the Office of Community Standards.
“We have zero tolerance for this type of irresponsible and unsafe behavior,” said President Barbara Jean Morris, in a statement on the school’s website.
“We will always pursue this immediate action in the spirit of the over-whelming number of SUNY Oneonta students who followed safety protocols and lost out on a semester on campus because of the behavior of a few.”
Added Mayor Gary Herzig: “It’s very disappointing. But I’m pleased the college is acting swiftly. Let’s hope it’s an isolated incident.”
The students who held the party were not quarantining, said campus spokesman Kim MacLeod.
According to Oneonta Police chief Doug Brenner, the party was not reported to police. “We had
a few calls this weekend, but we were unable to correlate it with any of our calls.”
With the colder weather, windows and doors are being closed, he said, adding, “The students learn. They’re not turning the music up as loud, so it’s harder for us to get a notification. By the time the pictures start making the rounds on social media, the party is over.”
Herzig said the photo had been forwarded to him by concerned citizens, and he reached out to the school. “People are paying attention,” he said. “They’re concerned. We all need to be working together to stay healthy.”
However, with only six off-campus houses remaining on active quarantine, Brenner said there is concern that the parties will start again.
“As kids come out of quarantine, they may feel a false sense of security,” he said. “But you could still pass it on, or you could get infected again.”