Cornell University has been highly praised for its Coronavirus plan, notably in the Washington Post and by Bloomberg. The campus operated in a hybrid form, with students taking classes both online and in-person, varying by course, for the entirety of the fall semester. After Thanksgiving, all classes transitioned to online, and the majority of Cornell students traveled back to their homes for the remainder of the semester. The university will continue to test any students who remain on campus after Thanksgiving, but with the majority of the data already collected, we wanted to examine the cumulative data of testing over 20,000 total undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff once or twice a week.
Data was collected from August 13, 2020 to November 24, 2020.
All data was collected from the Cornell Covid Dashboard.
All New York State data from the Covid Tracking Project NY State Dashboard.
Total tests: 411,416 (approximately 3.56% of all tests in the state of New York over the time period)
Total positive tests: 241
Cumulative positivity rate: 0.059%
Total Tests vs. Total Cases per Day
7 Day Moving Average of Positive Tests.
Percent of Tests in the State of New York that are from Cornell’s Covid Testing Program
How does Cornell compare to other colleges?
According to the New York Times, over 65 colleges have more than 1,000 reported cases of coronavirus (through November 19th). In the state of New York, 181 schools have a total reported case count of 10,782, meaning that Cornell (which had 213 cases between its main campus in Ithaca and medical school campus in New York City on November 19th) accounted for just 1.97% of all cases in New York. According to numbers from ny.gov, Cornell accounts for 2.19% of all enrolled college students in the state of New York, however the number of students on campus and attending in person classes is significantly less this semester as many schools in New York are entirely online and are not allowing students on campus, for example Columbia University and Barnard were entirely online this semester. As a result, one can only assume that Cornell accounted for a much greater percentage of in-person/on-campus students in the state of New York than 2.19%, and yet still only accounted for 1.97% of all cases.
Outside the state of New York, one of the most notably comparable universities by enrollment size is Clemson (25,822 students vs. Cornell’s 24,027). Clemson currently leads the nation in total cases with 5,086, and has definitely taken a very different approach compared to Cornell’s extremely reserved approach. The other schools in the top 5 by cases are University of Florida (5,008 cases to 56,567 students), Ohio State (4,886 cases to 61,391 students), University of Georgia (4,387 cases to 38,920 students), and Penn State (4,353 cases to 82,098 students).
Raw Data for Cornell’s Fall Semester