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COVID19 2020-12-02 Requirements and Post-Thanksgiving

HEALTH ALERT: COVID-19 Cases on the Rise Post-Thanksgiving Holiday, Health Department Details Quarantine and Isolation Requirements

(Ithaca, NY – December 2, 2020) – Following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County and surrounding areas, the Tompkins County Health Department is urging the community to remain vigilant and continue to take steps to reduce community transmission of COVID-19.  The Health Department is also reminding residents of quarantine and isolation requirements, and that all non-essential gatherings and travel are strongly discouraged.

“We are seeing our highest numbers of cases since the start of this pandemic. It is not even a week since Thanksgiving, and we are already seeing evidence of spread due to small gatherings and people visiting friends and family for the holiday. More than half of our 34 cases on December 1 are connected to Thanksgiving gatherings and related travel,” stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director.

Kruppa continued, “Health Department nurses and contact tracers are working through unprecedented numbers of cases, and continue to maintain excellent turn-around time in notifying all positive cases and close contacts. However, due to the high volumes of cases in surrounding areas, we are seeing delays in our Health Department being notified of positive cases in those counties who may have close contacts or exposures here in Tompkins County. This has a ripple effect, causing delays in Tompkins County residents being notified to begin quarantine.” Kruppa detailed the County’s contact tracing capacity in a presentation to the Tompkins County Legislature on December 1; that presentation can be viewed on the County’s  YouTube channel.

The Health Department is issuing clarifying information on isolation and quarantine expectations. Isolation and quarantine are long-standing public health tools used to reduce community spread of infectious diseases. See below and additional information on the TCHD website.

Close contacts of an individual with a positive test result must quarantine for 14 days past the last date of exposure, and should get tested for COVID-19. A negative diagnostic COVID-19 test does not end or shorten the quarantine period.

Key actions to take if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case and need to Quarantine:
  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Watch for fever (100°F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Stay away from others in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom, if possible
  • The Health Department will call with further instructions. If you have difficulty continuing to quarantine, discuss your situation with the contact tracer.
Key actions to take if you test positive for COVID-19 and need to Isolate:

The Health Department nurses contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 once the result is received. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days past the onset of symptoms or 10 days past the date of their positive test sample collection or as instructed by the Health Department.

  • Stay away from others in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom.
  • Wait for a call from the Health Department for further instructions and daily monitoring.
  • If you develop new symptoms or need medical care, call your primary care provider first. Do not go to the ER or Urgent Care without speaking to your primary care provider. In case of emergency, call 911 and state that you are under isolation for COVID-19.
  • Stay isolated in a separate room from other household members at all times.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible. If this is not possible you must sanitize bathroom fixtures and surfaces immediately after use.
  • Have all meals and other needs—medicines, personal items—brought to your bedroom door.
  • You cannot go to work, school, public places, or social gatherings.
  • Avoid all contact with other members of the household and pets.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask if you need to be around other people, if medically tolerable.

For updates on the recent spike in cases and guidance on how to help stop the spread, the public can tune in to the next COVID-19 Town Hall on Wednesday, December 9, at 5:00PM. Questions can be submitted in advance to The event will be live streamed and archived on the County’s YouTube channel:

For local updates and information, check the TCHD website

Individuals who traveled to or from a non-contiguous state must quarantine for a period of 14 days when entering New York or follow the travel-related testing guidelines.  More information about the travel-related testing guidelines can be found on the NYS Travel Advisory webpage. For more information about how to quarantine, refer to the TCHD website
Everyone can continue to take these steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community:

  • Refrain from non-essential travel.
  • Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
  • Wear a mask at all times in public spaces, especially when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Masks and face coverings must be worn by everyone over age two at all times in public places when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Fines are enforceable for individuals who are in violation of these regulations. Businesses must deny entry to anyone who is not wearing a face covering.
  • Non-essential gatherings are limited to 50 people for our region, but must comply with distancing and face covering guidance. Non-essential gatherings in private residences, indoor or outdoor, are limited to 10 people or less.
  • Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close and continued contact with other people not in your household.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Testing is available through Cayuga Health System. Get details here.

To file a complaint about a business or social gathering go to the TCHD website.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.