Broome County health officials announced on Tuesday that the county has one confirmed case of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in response, Binghamton Mayor Rich David issued a mandatory curfew for the city of Binghamton starting Tuesday evening.
The patient, who is currently being treated at United Health Services Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, from a neighboring county, health officials said. The patient exhibited fever and respiratory symptoms in line with COVID-19 upon arrival at the hospital and is expected to recover. The patient’s identity has yet to be released; however, the patient is not a Binghamton University student, according to University officials.
The case comes six days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo order all SUNY and CUNY campuses to move to online distance learning by March 19, superseding earlier instructions from University President Harvey Stenger, who initially said classes would only be moved entirely online if a case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the BU community. As of Tuesday, there were 1,374 active COVID-19 cases in New York state.
David wrote in a statement that the new curfew in Binghamton, which will require residents to stay at home between from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., aims to prevent further spread of the virus.
“With a new confirmed case of COVID-19 in Broome County, and following discussions with Binghamton public safety officials, we are taking the next step necessary to slow the spread of the virus and keep our community as safe as possible,” he wrote. “During this curfew, all residents will be required to remain in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for emergencies, or if they are required to work by their employer.”
David also issued a warning directly to University students.
“To [BU] students — stay home and avoid any type of party atmosphere,” David wrote. “You may not be the people getting sick but you can spread this virus. [BPD] will be breaking up these gatherings and holding organizers responsible. Period.”
David’s statement is not the first time the city has expressed concerns that Binghamton’s off-campus student population could contribute to the increased spread of COVID-19. On Monday, the Binghamton Police Department (BPD) issued a statement condemning house parties and other social gatherings, vowing to follow “strict enforcement of law concerning the serving and underage possession [and] consumption of alcohol, as well as related, occupancy and code regulations.”
“During this ongoing and developing public health situation we discourage all off-campus fraternities, sororities or college groups otherwise and the student population as a whole from organizing, engaging in and hosting any such off-campus house parties or gatherings,” BPD’s statement read.
David ended his statement on Tuesday by urging all Binghamton residents to continue practicing social distancing and safe hygiene habits by regularly their washing hands and staying home if they feel sick.
“This curfew is a serious measure but we are at a serious time in our city’s history,” David wrote. “The time to enact proactive policies that will help save lives is now. Each of us must do our part.”