Two members of the faculty at SUNY New Paltz, in the music and special education departments, have tested positive for coronavirus.
The special education faculty member is currently off campus and in quarantine. That employee was last on campus on Thursday, March 12.
We spoke with the music professor. He is Ed Lundergan, 64, who has been a professor at the college since 1993. He was informed at 1 a.m. today that his test was positive.
Lundergan said that he has “no underlying issues” and went to New Paltz Family Practice earlier this week because his flu-like symptoms were not getting better. “Sunday, I woke up with a sore throat, feeling tired and had a 101-degree fever,” he explained. He self-quarantined along with his wife, Carol, but by Monday the symptoms increased and he went to see his doctor.
When he tested negative for the flu and strep throat, he was given the COVID-19 test. “I’m assuming that because I tested negative for the other common illnesses and my age that they tested me as a precaution,” he said.
His wife was also tested as she’s been experiencing flu-like symptoms. “She’s about two days behind me,” he said. (3/22 update: Carol got her results back; she also tested positive.)
Lundergan was already taking the precautions that had been recommended by the Center for Disease Control. “I was on campus a week or so ago when things were still somewhat normal and then we were told that the students would not be coming back after spring break and to vacate our offices, which I did. I was at home, preparing for online, remote learning and then this past Sunday started feeling like I had the flu.”
Once he tested positive, he was put in contact with both the Ulster County Department of Health and SUNY New Paltz. “[The Health Department] wanted me to trace my steps back in terms of who I had contact with, which I have and I’ve called anyone with whom I had contact with the weekend before to let them know. SUNY had many of the same questions.”
SUNY New Paltz sent out a press release on March 20 notifying their faculty, students and staff of the situation.
As a precautionary measure, the College is closing Old Main, College Hall and Shango Hall effective immediately. The buildings will remain closed at least until Monday, March 23, to enable deep cleaning.
SUNY said it would continue to update its college constituents and work with the Health Department. “Campus leadership is activating all other necessary protocols and will provide timely updates to all members of the campus community,” said a release.
Lundergan said that “most people have responded with kindness and support.” The music professor said that he thought he was on an upswing, but then was not feeling well today. “It’s been a see-saw kind of sickness,” he said.
Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers responded to the first known case in New Paltz by saying that “It’s a real challenge for that individual and for their family. But this appears to be the path of this virus, and so it’s expected that we’re going to have residents that test positive. I think it’s very good that he went into self-quarantine even before he tested positive and continues to act in a very responsible manner.”
Lundergan said that his hope is that people “take this thing seriously and err on the side of caution. We’ll all get through this together if we work to flatten that curve and support each other.”