SUNY campus to shut for 2 weeks after spike in virus cases

ALBANY, N.Y. (WBEN/AP) — One of the State University of New York’s campuses will shut down for two weeks after more than 100 people in the college community tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced Sunday.

The positive cases at SUNY Oneonta represent about 3% of the students and faculty on campus this semester, said Jim Malatras, the chancellor of the state university system.

Malatras, who joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a conference call, said five students have been suspended because of large parties that were held last week. He said three rapid-result testing sites will be set up in Oneonta starting Wednesday.

The University at Albany, another SUNY campus, also announced Sunday that four students were temporarily suspended from campus after officials investigated large off-campus gatherings over the weekend.

The shutdown of the Oneonta campus in central New York is the first in the state, where most colleges are opening with a mix of in-person and online instruction.

Cuomo, a Democrat, urged students to follow virus safety guidelines and avoid large gatherings.

“I get it,” he said. ”You go back to college. You want to see your friends. Part of the college experience is socializing.”

But he said a 3% infection rate is too high because the virus can spread quickly in a congregate setting like a college.

Cuomo said New York state’s overall coronavirus infection rate on Saturday was 0.69% based on 100,000 tests conducted statewide. New York’s infection rate has been below 1% every day for more than three weeks.