Governor deploys ‘SWAT team’ to contain SUNY coronavirus cluster

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ONEONTA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Governor Cuomo deployed a “SWAT team” on Sunday to contain a COVID-19 cluster that had developed at SUNY Oneonta. The college currently has 105 confirmed positive cases, which is around 3% of the total student and faculty population.

The team includes 71 contact tracers, eight case investigators and three, free rapid-testing sites will be opened in the city. The appointment-only sites will be capable of returning a result within 15 minutes and their locations will be announced on Monday.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras thanked the Governor for the state’s response:

I want to thank the Governor and Commissioner Zucker; they’ve deployed case investigators and contact tracers to help with the situation and the state is deploying a SWAT team to come into the Oneonta community to set up three rapid results testing facilities so that any resident of the Oneonta community can be tested. It’s a 15-minute test.

Jim Malatras
SUNY Chancellor

The state took action as the college’s chancellor announced a two-week suspension of in-person instruction at the SUNY Oneonta campus to help address the cluster. 

If a private college doesn’t take the dramatic action, the local health department can make the college take close-down procedures. If the local community doesn’t do it, the state can do it.

A three percent infection rate, you know, that’s a high infection rate in a congregate situation. Three percent is high in a dense environment, like a dense urban environment where you have people taking public transportation; it’s a crowded environment. Three percent is high, so I think the Chancellor is doing the exact right thing at Oneonta and I think he’s taking the right actions across SUNY, and I think the private colleges should really follow the example.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
(D) New York

With in-person classes suspended and campus activity limited, SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris has instructed the college to shift to remote learning while quarantining measures are implemented and contact tracing takes place.

Five students and three campus organizations have also been suspended by SUNY Oneonta President Morris and the campus is pursuing additional suspensions.

State guidance for infection rates on college campuses is available online.

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