HO PLAZA—Despite conducting tens of thousands of tests for Covid-19 every week, Cornell Health‘s efforts paled in comparison to the threat posted by tourists Geoff and Stacey Vanderblum from Montgomery, Alabama.
“I’m not about to let some little flu ruin my life forever,” said a maskless Mr. Vanderblum, 59, while walking around campus. “It’s always been a dream of ours to visit Cornell and talk closely with the students, crowd into the narrow area behind McGraw Tower, and touch all of the famous monuments. Why should we give that up now?”
The Vanderblums attended Geoff’s cousin’s niece’s large indoor wedding in Mobile—now considered by the CDC to have been a “superspreader event”—a few days prior to their visit. Though they exhibited no outward signs of the deadly virus, university officials identify them as being directly or indirectly responsible for 62 new cases on the Cornell campus, with contact tracing lagging far behind the necessary number to contain new transmission.
“Me? I don’t have the coronavirus, no,” Mrs. Vanderblum said as the Statler Hotel’s isolation rooms quickly filled with students who had come into contact with the visitors. “It’s my Constitutional right not to wear a mask, and I fully intend to exercise that.”
At press time, the Vanderblums were spotted eating at a restaurant in Collegetown, but complained that the food “didn’t taste like anything.”