Cornell University shut down its Ithaca campus Tuesday amid a "rapid spread of COVID-19" among students.
As of Sunday, 469 active COVID-19 cases were reported, 214 of which were new positive tests.
The university's president said evidence of the Omicron variant was present in a "significant number" of positive tests.
Cornell University shut down its Ithaca campus on Tuesday amid a "rapid spread of COVID-19" among students, the university president announced.
As of Sunday, 469 active COVID-19 cases were reported, 214 of which were new positive tests, according to university data.
Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack said in a statement Tuesday evidence of the Omicron coronavirus variant was present in a number of positive tests from Monday.
"While faculty and staff case numbers currently remain low, just last evening our COVID-19 testing lab team identified evidence of the highly contagious Omicron variant in a significant number of Monday's positive student samples," Pollack said.
Pollack added that the evidence of the Omicron coronavirus variant is still preliminary and additional sequencing will be done.
The university moved into "alert level red," which entails moving all final exams to an online format effective immediately. All university activities, including a recognition ceremony for December graduates, have been cancelled.
Libraries, fitness centers, and gyms were closed to students, though offices and labs remain open.
"It is obviously extremely dispiriting to have to take these steps," Pollack said in the statement. "However, since the start of the pandemic, our commitment has been to follow the science and do all we can to protect the health of our faculty, staff, and students."
She added: "We have faced many challenges together over the last many months. I am confident that we can once again rise to meet this current challenge so we can all take a well-deserved break."
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previously said early data shows that the Omicron variant, though highly contagious, "is demonstrating some decreased severity."
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