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> COVID-19 2021-08-20 Update: Tompkins County In High Transmission, Mask Advisory In Effect, Recommendation for K-12 Schools

 N E W S   R E L E A S E 

Your Partner for a Healthy Community
Frank Kruppa — Public Health Director


Friday, August 20, 2021

COVID-19 Update: Tompkins County In High Transmission, Mask Advisory Still In Effect, Recommendation Issued for Mask-Wearing in K-12 Schools 

(Ithaca, N.Y., August 20, 2021) — The Tompkins County Health Department is alerting the community that Tompkins County is now in the “High” transmission rate as defined by the CDC. High transmission rate occurs when there are over 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. The advisory for County residents to wear a mask indoors while around others continues to be in place. TCHD has recently advised local K-12 school districts that they should follow New York State Education Department guidance and ask students and staff to wear masks while indoors at school and around others.

Over the past seven days, there have been 132 new positive cases in Tompkins County. In response to the recent rise in cases, Tompkins County issued a local mask advisory on July 30. The advisory to wear a mask while indoors around others continues to be in place.

Since May 1, 2021, nearly 20% of positive cases have been of children under age 12 who are ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This constitutes around 0.01% of all children under age 12 in Tompkins County. This rise in youth cases is attributed to:

  • The more transmissible Delta variant, which has become the new normal, constituting over 90% of recent Tompkins County positive cases
  • Mixing of different cohorts and large group transportation
  • Gatherings & summer travel

Additional recent clusters of positive adult cases have continued to occur following indoor gatherings, domestic travel, and household spread. Several clusters have been avoided with wearing of masks indoors.

Due to the recent rise in local COVID-19 cases in both the adult and youth populations, TCHD is recommending that all local schools follow New York State Department of Education guidance including the recommendation to require mask wearing of all students, staff, and faculty while indoors and around others. TCHD continues to work closely with all local school districts.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “It is our goal to have a healthy K-12 school year, we know that mask-wearing and vaccines are our best tools to keep anyone, including children, from testing positive with COVID-19 and spreading the disease.” Kruppa continued, “As more Delta variant cases have been seen locally, we’ve seen the numbers of positive cases in young people increase. For young people who cannot be vaccinated, wearing masks will help stop the more contagious Delta variant and help keep more students in the classroom.”

Kruppa added, “Our mask advisory is still in place for all community members, and paired with vaccinations, this is our best tool for stopping the spread. We know what works, and we’re a healthier community when we all work together to keep one another safe. Thanks to everyone for doing your part to stop this pandemic.”