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COVID19 2020-12-07 Health Alert 61 COVID-19 Cases and Fourth Death Announced

The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) announced 61 new positive COVID-19 cases on Monday along with a fourth death at Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home. A majority of the 61 cases are resulting from spread within households and small gatherings, such as Thanksgiving or holiday celebrations, where one positive individual who may not have been showing symptoms infects most of their close contacts in those settings. TCHD has issued guidance strongly discouraging all non-essential gatherings and travel. TCHD is also sharing information on the recent spread of COVID-19 and how members of the public can help to stop the spread.

There are currently 293 active COVID-19 cases (231 over the past seven days) and over 1,100 individuals in quarantine in Tompkins County. Some of the recent increase can be attributed to the following:

  • Significant spread at local gatherings, including Thanksgiving celebrations with extended family from outside of New York State or Tompkins County
  • Holiday-related travel from out of state or county
  • Small clusters of employees at local businesses
  • A number of positive cases associated with local higher education institutions (dashboards can be found here)
  • Several entire households testing positive, including large multi-family households
  • Over 100 cases cannot identify where they might have contracted the disease.

To help stop the spread from small gatherings:

  • Do not gather with others at this time. Instead of small gatherings, consider virtual alternatives with friends and family outside your household.
  • Avoid becoming a close contact. A close contact is defined as anyone who is within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more (over a 24-hour period) of someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
  • If you must gather with others, do so outdoors while wearing masks and keeping 6 feet apart from one another.

To help stop the spread at workplaces:

  • Continue mask-wearing in all settings when you might interact with others.
  • Limit interactions with co-workers and reduce density as possible. Use virtual alternatives for meetings and other gatherings.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from one another at all times.
  • Exercise remote work options when possible.

To help stop community spread:

  • Limit all non-essential travel. If you travel outside of New York and contiguous states, closely follow travel, quarantine, and testing guidance.
  • Limit all interactions with others outside of your own home. Carefully consider if your outing is essential each time you go out.
  • Wear a mask when outside your home, and only remove it if you know you will not be within 6 feet or interact with someone else.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “We are seeing in real-time how quickly COVID-19 spreads and the ripple effect that our actions have on others close to us, as well as on the wider community. In addition to being careful and following the guidance, we’re asking people to be patient — if we hold off on gathering now, we can bring the positive case number down and keep our family members from getting sick and being negatively impacted.” Kruppa continued, “Our thoughts are with the family of the individual who passed today, and with all of those who are impacted by COVID-19. We all have a responsibility to keep each other healthy and stop the disease from spreading and hurting others.”

The Tompkins County Health Department continues to manage contact investigations and tracing. TCHD also recently reminded the community about quarantine and isolation requirements.

Senior Community Health Nurse Rachel Buckwalter stated, “Our team is doing a remarkable job managing the increase in cases. Each case that we report is not just one potentially sick individual who needs daily checks, it also results in another contact investigation that may find dozens of other contacts who have to quarantine and be checked on daily. As we’ve seen cases rise, we have also seen hospitalizations increase. We urge everyone to remember that staying home has helped to keep our numbers low in Tompkins County and is the best tool we have to stopping the spread of the disease.”

Kruppa added, “As small gatherings contribute to the spread, we’re seeing the impact on essential businesses and essential workers. These are the individuals who have been on the front lines of keeping our community open and safe, and it’s imperative that we keep them in mind as we work to stop the spread.”

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 drecckio@tompkins-co.org. The event will be live streamed and archived on the County’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/2Wibn5Dptws.


For local updates and information, check 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 2 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:
    • Mass Sampling Site: The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd. Regular hours, Monday-Friday 8:30AM-4:00PM.
    • Downtown Sampling Site: 412 N. Tioga St. Monday-Friday 8:00AM-4:00PM
    • Appointment Required. Register for an appointment online at cayugahealthsystem.org or call the Cayuga Health Call Center at 607-319-5708. Regular hours for the Call Center are Monday-Friday 8:30AM-4:00PM. Cayuga Health occasionally adds weekend or extended hours. Please call 607-319-5708 for updated information.

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

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 TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.