COVID-19 Testing & Care

Especially for BIPOC students...

For Fall 2020, Cornell is requiring through its Behavioral Compact arrival testing and surveillance testing for students in Ithaca as a public health strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color (BIPOC) may have concerns about fulfilling the Compact requirements based on history, and may find this information helpful.

Please refer to Cornell’s COVID-19 website as the main source for campus-wide updates and information.

The following information is intended to complement that resource with more detail about Cornell Health's offerings.

Diagnostic COVID-19 testing at Cornell Health

Cornell Health provides diagnostic testing for students who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, have had known exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or who meet other diagnostic criteria.

Cornell Health does not oversee the university's surveillance testing (see below).

How to be tested for cause at Cornell Health:

  • Students should call us at 607-255-5155 during business hours to be pre-screened for testing (must meet diagnostic criteria). 
  • There is no out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic testing (testing costs are submitted to insurance and are currently reimbursed at 100%). 
  • Test results typically are available within 24 hours. Students are expected to self-quarantine while they await their results.

Cornell's surveillance testing (through Cayuga Health System)

Cornell's mandatory arrival testing and surveillance testing are provided through a partnership with Cayuga Health System, with oversight from the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Integration. This ongoing screening is designed to identify positive cases among asymptomatic students, and isolate those cases to contain the spread of COVID-19.

There is no charge for Cornell's surveillance testing. It is not necessary to bring your insurance card to the testing site, but DO bring your Cornell ID card.

    Care for students who test positive for COVID-19

    Students who test positive for COVID-19 – through arrival / surveillance testing or through diagnostic testing at Cornell Health – are placed under the care of Cornell Health and the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD).

    The TCHD monitors all positive COVID-19 cases in the county, including assessing isolation housing needs and conducting contact tracing. Cornell Health works closely with the TCHD, as well as with campus partners, to provide care and support for students with COVID-19.


    Students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be directed to self-isolate for approximately 14 days (length of time is determined on a case-by-case basis by the TCHD).

    • Students living in university housing are provided with private isolation housing and meals. 
    • Students living off campus are assessed by the TCHD to determine whether they can self-isolate in their off-campus residence. If a student can’t self-isolate where they are, the TCHD works with Cornell Health staff to arrange appropriate isolation housing and meals.
    • All students in isolation are contacted each day by Cornell Health to help monitor their symptoms, and to provide additional support if needed (see more information below).

    Visit our Isolation for COVID-19 page for more details.

    Care for students with symptoms 

    Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 are contacted each day by Cornell Health to help monitor their symptoms, and to provide consultation, care management, and self-care guidance. Students are also contacted daily by the TCHD to monitor their recovery. Guidance for students about monitoring their own symptoms is available on our Isolation for COVID-19 page.

    Cornell Health and the TCHD work closely with the local hospital, Cayuga Medical Center, in the event that a student requires medical care or hospitalization for their symptoms. Information about the hospital's capacity to respond to a possible surge in COVID-19 cases is available on the Cayuga Health System website.

    Contacting / sharing information with family members: Students' personal health information is confidential. Students must sign a release before our staff can share information about a positive COVID-19 diagnosis with others, including family members. In the event of an emergency, Cornell Health will contact parents / family members that students have included in their emergency contacts. 


    If you have questions that are not addressed above, we invite you to call us during business hours at 607-255-5155, or email (please do not email personal health information).