TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — The cluster of positive coronavirus cases at Cornell University has grown to 21 positive cases, according to the Tompkins County Health Department. It was announced during Tuesday’s Tompkins County Legislature meeting.

All positive cases are now in isolation, and close contacts are being placed in mandatory quarantine as they are identified. County Administrator Jason Molino and County Health Director Frank Kruppa said that the cases are related to gatherings “where mask and distancing guidance was not adhered to,” similar to what was announced on Friday.

This represents 12 new cases that have been identified since the first nine were reported on Friday, Aug. 28. The next day, Cornell confirmed that each of the initial nine cases was among its student body. No other information has been released about the students involved, though Cornell did say that they have placed some students on temporary suspension for violating the school’s student behavioral compact.

“We have been working closely with Cornell since the first case was identified,” Kruppa said, reiterating that this cluster stems from a number of small gatherings. “We have tried to be clear in our messaging that it’s not just the size of the gathering, but about masks and social distancing.”

Kruppa said it’s important to note that the new cases have all come from people who were already in quarantine because they were close contacts with the initial nine people who tested positive. That, he said, means the system is working and that there has not been additional exposure as far as they know. Cornell’s self-maintained COVID dashboard still lists the school as “green,” the lowest level of risk.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that if a college has 100 cases (or five percent of its student body, whichever is lower) within two weeks then it must go to online learning for two weeks, at which point the school, state and local health department would assess future steps. Cornell has reported 21 cases in the last five days.

The health department announced six new coronavirus cases on Monday and nine new cases on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases in Tompkins County to 32.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at