With the University of Albany announcing there is a concerning spike of COVID-19 among students, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said Friday morning that the region is at a "critical moment" to prevent this spike from spreading.

As of Thursday evening, UAlbany had 40 positive student cases recorded, 31 of which had been reported to the Department of Health within the last 48 hours.

The cluster has been traced back to athletics and off-campus housing in the Pine Hills neighborhood. If not addressed immediately, the university says it may have to suspend all in-person activities, including teaching, on campus. 

"We are at a critical moment right here. We need people's help and we need to have these students continue to come forward to identify the places where they've been," McCoy said Friday.

The university says it will be working closely with the Albany County Health Department to ensure that impacted students are quarantined. It issued the importance of all students and staff continuing to follow essential safety guidelines such as mask wearing and social distancing. 

According to the university, violations of these safety violations will result in "severe consequences, up to and including suspension or dismissal from the University." 

So far, six students have been suspended and five removed from campus.

"This is a deadly serious pandemic and we must not, and cannot, let our guard down," UAlbany President Havidan Rodriguez said Friday.

While most of the new cases involve off campus students, those living in the UAlbany dorms say they are concerned for their safety and worry the actions of others could cause the university to move to a completely virtual model.

“It’s annoying because we are up here for a reason, to learn,” says student Dylan Klein, “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and the fact that people think it’s okay to party right now is the biggest mistake.”

Klein says he’s aware of the parties and is concerned people will bring the virus back to campus.

The county and university is beginning to contact trace and Rodriguez says there will be increased testing for student athletes and all athletics are suspended until further notice.

Albany County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen cautioned that some of the new cases may not be linked to Albany County residents, meaning the numbers on local dashboards may change.

Governor Cuomo has said that 100 positive cases is the threshold for a college campus to move to remote learning.