LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s letter, sent to Governor Cuomo this week, expressing concern about college students’ return to the City of the Hills.
Thank you for your effective leadership during these dangerous and unpredictable times.
The City of Oneonta is proud to be the home of two fine colleges – SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. The 7,000 plus students who live and study with us are a vital part of our community culture and economy.
Our ability, along with those of all of New York’s college communities, to effectively recover from COVID-19 is dependent upon the re-opening of our college campuses and the return of their students.
Re-opening our college campuses, however, will require an aggressive program of testing for all students attending our residential colleges.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the City of Oneonta have consistently represented no more than 15 percent of all such cases in Otsego County despite Oneonta being the county’s clear center of population density.
This can only be attributed to the diligent way in which the people of this City have responded to the need to isolate.
The return of 7,000 college students, without a program of mandated testing, to a community with
very little immunity, places too many lives at risk – a risk supported by the recently released
Cornell University study ranking Otsego County as the third most vulnerable to an outbreak in
New York State.
…Having adequate testing materials available for returning students of both our public and private colleges must be a priority – along with effective protocols for testing and isolation.
August may feel like the distant future right now; however, one thing we have learned from this pandemic is that it is never too early to act, Our host communities look forward to working in partnership with your administration, SUNY, and our local college administrators in implementing a safe and full COVID-19 recovery.