COVID-19 Services & Information

Cornell's COVID-19 website

Fall 2022

See Fall 2022 updates on Cornell's COVID-19 website.

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COVID-19 vaccination & boosters

Cornell Health is currently providing Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations and boosters for students by appointment (no charge). This includes a limited supply of the updated bivalent vaccine targeting both the original strain of the coronavirus and the newer omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. Call 607-255-5155 for an appointment.

Moderna and Pfizer bivalent boosters are also available at many local pharmacies and providers: find a local bivalent booster provider.

When to get your COVID booster: Refer to the CDC's guidance on staying up-to-date with COVID boosters

Vaccination requirement: See information about Cornell's COVID vaccination requirement.

COVID-19 testing 

Antigen testing (self-tests)

Antigen tests can be self-administered and provide results within 15 minutes.

Antigen testing is effective at detecting infection at high viral levels, when people are most infectious. Positive antigen test results are extremely accurate and do not need to be confirmed with a PCR test. A negative antigen test result does not rule out a COVID infection; if you have a negative antigen test and are concerned about your symptoms, consider contacting Cornell Health for evaluation (607-255-5155). 

How to get an antigen test:

  • Antigen tests are available for free at various campus locations: find antigen test pick-up locations.
  • Antigen tests are also sold at many retail locations, including the Cornell Health pharmacy. Most insurance plans cover antigen tests; limits apply, so check your insurance plan. 

PCR testing 

PCR tests are processed in a lab. Depending on where the test is done, results may take 1-2 days to be available.

A positive PCR test shows that you have COVID-19 nucleic acids in your body, a sign of a current COVID-19 infection – or a recent infection (some people who contract COVID may receive a positive PCR test result for up to three months, long after they are contagious). 

How to get a PCR test:

  • If clinically indicated: Cornell Health will continue to provide PCR testing for students who meet clinical testing criteria; please call us at 607-255-5155 for consultation and to schedule an appointment. 
  • Upon request: Additional PCR testing is available locally at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site at the Ithaca Mall.
  • Pre-travel testing: If you need COVID testing before international travel, Cayuga Medical Center provides PCR testing at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site as well as travel documents. Some airports also offer on-site testing. Learn more about pre-travel testing on Cornell's COVID-19 website. 

When to get tested for symptoms / exposure 

If you're experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, limit contact with others, wear a high-quality mask, and pick up an antigen test as soon as possible at one of Cornell's antigen test pick-up locations. (If your symptoms are severe or worrying, call Cornell Health for consultation: 607-255-5155 (24/7). Severe symptoms include fever >102F, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe headache, severe sore throat, vomiting.) 

If you have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but you do not have any symptoms, monitor yourself for symptoms, wear a mask around others for 5-10 days post-exposure (regardless of vaccination status), and test at day 5. For more detailed instructions, refer to NYS guidance here. See guidance for roommates, below.

What to do if you test positive

Self-isolate in your room / apartment for a full 5 days from symptom onset or test date and follow this isolation guidance from the Tompkins County Health Department.

If asymptomatic or if symptoms are improving, at the end of 5 days isolation ends. Continue to wear a high-quality mask around others for an additional 5 days. (EXCEPTION: People who are immunocompromised, and those who are unable to wear a mask for 5 days after isolation, should self-isolate for 10 days instead of 5.)

When isolating …

  • Avoid exposing roommates: Wear a high-quality mask around others at all times (except when sleeping), and practice physical distancing whenever possible. If able, keep windows open to facilitate air circulation. Clean shared areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, immediately after use and before the next person enters.
  • Inform your professors: Self-report your positive test result (including uploading a photo of your results) through the Daily Check. You will receive an email including information from Student Disability Services that you can send to professors to let them know you will not be able to participate in in-person learning while in isolation. Contact your college student services office for additional academic support as needed.
  • Pick up meals or have food delivered: Students with a Cornell Dining meal plan can briefly leave isolation to pick up food to go at any Cornell Dining eatery. Please wear a well-fitting mask and return to your room or apartment to eat. If you are feeling particularly ill, you can use the Sick Tray option. Students who do not have a meal plan should get meals delivered: there are numerous local delivery options including Ithaca To Go and Wegmans Instacart.

  • Monitor your symptoms: Most COVID symptoms can be self-managed using non-prescription cough/cold/fever medication. If your symptoms are severe or worrying, call Cornell Health for consultation: 607-255-5155 (24/7). (Severe symptoms include fever >102F, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe headache, severe sore throat, vomiting.) 
  • Notify contacts: Notify close contacts that they may have been exposed, and should monitor themselves for symptoms and follow the testing-for-exposure guidance detailed above.

What to do if a roommate tests positive

To mitigate risk of exposure, take the following precautions during the COVID-positive individual's isolation period (typically 5 full days following symptom onset or test date; see above):

  • Wear a high-quality mask around the COVID-positive individual at all times, except when sleeping.
  • Get tested. Because the virus can take days to incubate, even if asymptomatic, you should test immediately upon learning your roommate is positive and then several days later. Test immediately if you become symptomatic.
  • Limit time at home / in your room: consider studying in the library, community center, or residential lounge, and gathering with friends outside of residential rooms.
  • Take extra precautions, such as washing your hands often and cleaning shared, high-touch surfaces. If able, keep windows open to facilitate air circulation.

Students in university housing who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (as defined by the CDC) and have a COVID-positive roommate should contact Student Disability Services to discuss a temporary housing accommodation.