Cornell University in Ithaca, New York has locked down the campus and moved finals online due to roughly 900 students testing positive for COVID-19, including some Omicron cases:
Cornell University moved finals exams to an online format, closed libraries and gyms, barred visitors from campus and took other restrictive measures after the school’s Covid testing lab found evidence of the Omicron variant in a number of students’ tests. https://t.co/sgKmhbwULN
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 14, 2021
Cases have spiked since Thanksgiving:
Wild Omicron spike at Cornell
— Dan Toomey (@dhtoomey) December 15, 2021
Classes for the semester were already over and it was finals week:
In response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and evidence of the Omicron variant, Cornell is moving to Alert Level Red and announcing a number of immediate measures, including final exams moving online as of noon, Dec. 14.https://t.co/Scj0FZBEuA
— Cornell University (@Cornell) December 14, 2021
Notably, Cornell reports no “severe illness in any of [the] infected students but they locking everyone down for the community at large (emphasis ours):
While I want to provide reassurance that, to date, we have not seen severe illness in any of our infected students, we do have a role to play in reducing the spread of the disease in the broader community. The fact that we have not experienced severe illness among our student population may lead some to ask why we are imposing such serious steps. So let me share the underlying math: Consider one variant, let’s call it A, in which each person infects two others on average, and which causes serious illness in 1% of cases. After ten iterations of transmission, you’ll have about 1,000 cases, and 10 instances of serious illness. Now consider variant B, which is twice as infectious, so each person infects four others on average, but which causes serious illness only one-tenth as often, i.e., in only 0.1% of cases. Unchecked, over the same ten iterations of transmission, with variant B you’ll have more than a million cases, and about 1,000 individuals with serious illness. Of course, other factors come into play, including the fact that the virus will “run out” of people to infect in any community, but the point is that higher transmissibility leads to exponential growth, which outweighs the linear decrease in percent of severe cases. To avoid this type of situation, it is imperative not to let such infections run unchecked, but to take steps that limit transmission.
So, to protect the community, they’re sending the infected kids home?
Granted, there’s no good solution here. The semester was over and students have travel home already booked, vacations scheduled, etc., not to mention it’s Christmas:
It seems that all the students will now be sent home? While we need more time to have conclusive answers, basic principles and lab studies indicate this variant would pose the most threat to elderly—especially if without boosters. Maybe give the students an option to stay put?
— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) December 15, 2021
Keep in mind, almost everyone at Cornell is vaccinated. At some point, the “blue state Covid madness” has to end:
Entire college of @Cornell shut down despite:
1. Survival rate for healthy student is 99.9996%.* (235/53.3 million)
2. Omicron is highly contagious, but symptoms tend to be "generally mild"
3. 97% 'vaxxed rate'
Welcome to blue state Covid madness.👇https://t.co/uAnz3IKuY5
— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) December 15, 2021
But, we expect, there will be another panic in the coming days and weeks:
Big upticks in COVID cases in NFL, NBA, and NHL. Pro sports leagues have the most intense surveillance testing in the US – harbinger of surge to come. (See also: the Cornell outbreak.)
Get your shots.
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan in other places) (@BrendanNyhan) December 15, 2021
Here we go again. . .