‘Super Spreader’ Caused Outbreak, Morris Tells Reps


‘Super Spreader’

Caused Outbreak,

Morris Tells Reps

DOH’s Bond: ‘It Spread Like Wildfire’;

SUNY Cases May Hit 450, Lapin Says

SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris beamed in to the county board meeting in Cooperstown today via Zoom from her fifth-floor office of the campus’ Netzer Administration Building.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – The “super spreader” did it.

There have been large parties, even larger, at other SUNY campuses, campus President Barbara Jean Morris told the county Board of Representatives this morning.

The difference here was the one individual – a “Typhoid Mary” of COVID-19, as county Rep. Danny Lapin would describe him (or her) – who attended a particular party on Saturday, Aug. 23, hosted by upper-class athletes who invited some freshmen.

“We believe that was the epicenter of the super-spreader event,” Morris told the county board via Zoom at its September meeting.  “We saw an uptick in waste water (being monitored on-campus for traces of COVID) almost immediately.”

In June, an article in Scientific American reported one “super spreader” at a Biogen leadership conference in Boston in February infected 99 of the 175 executives over two days.  It reported a choir member infected 52 people, two fatally, during a two-hour practice in Washington State.  In Albany, Ga., more than 100 people were infected at single funeral.

The MIT Technology Review used the Pareto Principle – that 20 percent of people cause 80 percent of consequences – to describe the “super spreader.”  Most people, the review said, will infect only two or three others.

Other than that – a random individual – “I don’t think our plan did fall short,” said Morris, who was invited to speak by county Rep. Danny Lapin, one of the city’s four reps.

Heidi Bond

Otherwise, she said, SUNY Oneonta’s plan was pretty much the same as those for all the other SUNY campuses. A couple campuses also required testing, as it’s been suggested SUNY Oneonta should have done.  But they are also experiencing infestations, the president said.

“You can see this is growing exponentially and very quickly,” said county Public Health Director Heidi Bond, who also address the board today.

She ticked off the numbers: two on Aug. 25; five on Aug. 26; six on Aug. 27; 14 on Aug. 28; 29 on Aug. 29.  Sunday, Aug. 30, as cases leaped to a total of 105, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras hurried to Oneonta, cancelled in-person classes for two weeks and ordered everyone tested.

“It spread pretty quickly,” Bond said.  “Then it spread like wildfire.”

Danny Lapin

Lapin, who the county board appointed as its representative to the Oneonta Control Board, designed to enable information-gathering between the campus and the city, said he heard at Monday’s OCB meeting that the campus outbreak will top off at 400-450 cases.

Mayor Gary Herzig estimated it at 300-400.

The campus reported this morning its tally had reached 289 overnight, and it planned another update this afternoon.

6 thoughts on “‘Super Spreader’ Caused Outbreak, Morris Tells Reps

  1. Julia Morrissey

    So 2 cases to 400-500 we are sure to see in a 2 week period is a tall plan!? How insulting and infuriating!! Thank you for your reporting, Mr. Kevlin. This Morris should fry. My family and elderly and medically-vulnerable parents live in Oneonta and if COVID-19 is the thanks they get for 20 years of service to SUCO, the lawyers will have a field day. First with the water poo monitoring plan in contrast to other campuses with actually smart people involved to develop a reality-based strategy. Then with the real math and infection outcomes on national display, stemming from this obvious SUNY-Oneonta incompetence. And to top it off, this cover-up bullcrap fantastical story about one rogue student ruining her otherwise perfect plan. Oh wait, we still have the rest of the semester on catch-up total quarantine to see how the town with real live people and businesses fair from Morris’ incredibly callous and “short” plan to re-open the college. Kudos to allotsego for all your articles on this outbreak.

  2. David Markell

    Lets simplify the whole scenario. To have students sign a statement saying they isolated prior to coming back to school is not a metric that should be relied upon. SUCO cannot prove that ever happened with any certainty. So regardless of any plans or hard work they put in, they left the back door wide open. So their plan looks shiny on the outside, to placate SUNY officials and the DOH , but is really based on an “I dont know.” Luckily we have another school in town that is glaringly different. Hartwick tested every student prior to their return. The kids went immediately into quarantine prior to classes starting. They have 2 cases……2!!!!!! The president of SUCO needs to teach her community of students how to take responsibility when you make a mistake. I dont see that happening right now and the lesson to be learned will not benefit the students our community is trying to teach. This is a failure. However, there is an opportunity to overcome this , but it starts with honest self reflection and taking responsibility. so we can more forward together. What is one of the most valuable things I learned at SUNY Oneonta as a student? Failure is hard but its the most valuable moment for learning and growth. I support the community of Oneonta and the wonderful SUNY Oneonta and hope we can get through this together.

  3. David Markell

    I hope everything works out. Is this a fair statemen? I hope this comment isn’t censored like my previous comment was.

  4. hans bauer

    Let us face the reality that we cannot go back to normal, until we have a vaccine or cure. ALL ELSE is very poor planning.

    We now have to purchase food in the same supermarkets, get gas at the same gas stations, as these 100’s of covid 19 students?!! ..Are we Oneonta residents to die for Morris ill plan?

    If students are to attend higher learning institutions, how about focusing on higher learning under a specific code of conduct, or be expelled? We have experienced many, many problems with SUNY O Students, and the disrespect for residents and others is getting MUCH worse!

    If you come to Oneonta to further your education, further your education, create great memories, and have some respect and unity with the local people.

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