New COVID cases in Monroe County soar to highest levels on record. The latest

Monroe County has reported 1,680 new laboratory-confirmed cases and 142 new positive home tests reported of COVID-19 Thursday, continuing a sequence of high case numbers attributed in part to backlogs, the health department said.

It had reported 1,573 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, just one day after setting a new record with 1,069 cases.

But even with the reporting backlog, the total volume of cases over the last six days speaks to how hard the region is being hit by the latest surge of coronavirus. Since Christmas Day, the County has reported 4,043 new cases, an average of 808 per day.

The previous daily high for positive cases in Monroe County was 838, reported on Dec. 31, 2020, according to state data.

517 individuals were reported hospitalized for COVID-19 in the Finger Lakes Region (up 11 since previous day). 121 of these patients are in ICU (down eight since previous day).

The county also announced that it was distributing 33,000 KN95 masks to essential and frontline workers. There had been a shortage of these masks in the early ad of the pandemic.

COVID cases in US

The United States' second-highest day of reported cases now has the country averaging more than 300,000 cases per day for the first time, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The country reported 2.11 million cases in the week ending Wednesday, an increase of 82% over the previous week.

More: Rapid tests, lots of rapid tests: How US schools plan to reopen amid omicron-fueled COVID surge

More: US COVID-19 map: Tracking cases and deaths

Cornell, UR among colleges requiring COVID booster shots for students

Cornell University, Ithaca College and the University of Rochester are among several institutions in New York State and nationwide that are requiring students to receive COVID-19 boosters.

Syracuse University has required all eligible students, faculty and staff who routinely access any Syracuse University campus location or facility, including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and all study abroad locations, to receive a booster shot prior to the start of the spring semester, or as soon as they become eligible.

Most other Rochester-area colleges have vaccine requirements in place for students but are not currently requiring boosters, including the Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Brockport, Nazareth College, and St. John Fisher College.

In the Hudson Valley, Vassar College and Marist College are requiring boosters for students.

More: Are area colleges requiring COVID vaccine boosters for spring? Safety plans issued

Recent studies show the Moderna and Pfizer boosters offer considerable protection for the omicron variant. Two weeks ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there would be no need for boosters that would be specifically made for the omicron variant.

Cornell will require all students, faculty and staff to have a booster by Jan. 31 or 30 days after someone becomes eligible. People are eligible to receive the booster six months after they have received their second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, or two months after they have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Cornell University reported more than 2,500 positive COVID-19 tests in December. Cases spiked from Dec. 11 to Dec. 18, when the university had more than 2,100 students, faculty and staff testing positive, of which 328 were reported positive on Dec. 15.

"There are many opportunities to learn from our recent surge in cases, both in terms of our preparedness for any future variants, and the manner in which the virus continues to impact our campus and the world," reads a message from Cornell University. "We will work earnestly over the coming weeks to devise an approach to next semester that is both safe and sustainable, understanding that as we approach the two-year anniversary of the pandemic, we are all depleted from its impact."

Ithaca College will require a booster dose by Feb. 15 or within 30 days of becoming eligible for a booster if that date falls after the Feb. 15 deadline. The college will also "de-densify" its move-in procedures for the spring semester by initiating a six-day move-in process from Jan. 18 to Jan. 23.

IC students will have to receive a PCR test within 72 hours before their arrival on campus and will have to show proof of a negative test result in order to check in. All IC students will also have to submit to a COVID-19 test upon arrival at check-in.

Other universities around the country, including Columbia University, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Duke University, Virginia Tech and the University of Massachusetts have announced booster requirements as well. Duke University announced it would place employees on administrative leave and fire them if they do not provide proof of a booster shot or apply for an exemption.

Contact staff reporter Sean Lahman at slahman@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @seanlahman.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: New COVID cases in Monroe County NY soar to highest levels on record

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