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> COVID19 Health Alert Cases Increase in Nearby Counties 2020-10-07

 N E W S   R E L E A S E 

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


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

For media inquiries: Samantha Hillson, 607-274-6714,
For health inquiries: Community Health Services at 607-274-6604
For general inquiries (non-medical): Call 2-1-1 or 877-211-8667

Cayuga Health COVID-19 Sampling Site: 607-319-5708,
New York State Hot-line for COVID-19: 1-888-364-3065

HEALTH ALERT: COVID-19 Cases Increase in Nearby Southern Tier Counties

(Ithaca, N.Y., October 7, 2020) – Over the past few weeks there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Southern Tier region. Nearby counties to Tompkins County are seeing a dramatic rise in positive cases, with some locations breaking records since the start of the pandemic. The Tompkins County Health Department is reminding the community to stay vigilant and providing guidance critical to stopping the spread. The Southern Tier region includes Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties.

In his media briefing on Monday, October 5, Governor Andrew Cuomo identified 20 hotspots around the State, each with a positivity rate of about 5.5%. Tompkins County is not included in the list of hotspots. The hotspots include zip codes in Broome, Tioga, and Chemung counties as well as areas downstate. The Governor compared the hotspot areas to the statewide positivity rate of about 1%, and urged vigilance, mask wearing, and testing. The Governor provided warnings about common locations of transmission: schools, religious gatherings, public spaces, and businesses. He reiterated the need for enforcement and acknowledged that monitoring zip codes is not an ideal measure because they are arbitrary lines that the virus can easily spread across. The Governor announced a new “Cluster Action Initiative” designed to map and address hotspots, including the one identified in Broome County.

“The rise in cases is concerning and reminds us that the virus is still present,” stated Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County Public Health Director. “We cannot become complacent. This is an important time to remain vigilant and continue the safety protocols put in place in March: wash hands well and often, cover nose and mouth with a cloth face covering or mask, and keep at least 6 feet from others who are not in your household. These are proven measures to stop the spread, and all of us have a responsibility to protect each other.”

“We have seen outbreaks in other counties related to the virus spreading at bars and restaurants,” continued Kruppa. “I want to take this opportunity to thank our over 830 local businesses that have submitted plans and attested to the State guidance. Our local businesses and patrons are taking necessary precautions to protect each other and prevent the spread of the virus. I want to remind businesses to review their screening protocols and encourage everyone to be doing a self-check at home before they go to work, school, or any other public location. Many people who work or live in Tompkins County also work or live in those neighboring counties that are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases.”

Tompkins County is also a popular destination for visitors, especially during the fall foliage season. “We welcome visitors to our beautiful county, and we depend on those who work here to operate our businesses and contribute to our economy. We urge visitors and those who work in Tompkins, but reside elsewhere, to be vigilant of guidance and monitor the situation as it evolves,” urged Jason Molino, Tompkins County Administrator.

The fall and winter months bring colder weather, as well as many holidays and events that bring people together. As temperatures drop it will become more difficult to gather outdoors, and careful consideration and planning will be required for holiday activities.

Halloween is one of these events where the opportunity for spread of the virus is high. Guidance is available on the Health Department website, along with a poster that individuals can display in a window or on their front door to alert trick-or-treaters that they are participating in physically distanced trick-or-treating, and taking necessary precautions. For more information and to download a poster:

“In order for our schools to remain open, other workplaces and locations to continue
operating in-person, and for our case numbers to remain low, we must all consider the interactions we engage in, events we choose to participate in, and travel we choose to take during these challenging times,” stated Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Tompkins County Legislature Chairwoman. “Please carefully assess these actions and think about the ripple effect they can have on others in our community. We have all worked too hard to avoid another shutdown. We all need to continue doing what we can to keep each other from getting sick with this virus. The virus is not gone and may be with us for many more months. We are in this together, please do your part.”

For local updates and information, check the TCHD website.

Individuals who have traveled to a state with significant community spread listed on the NYS Travel Advisory must quarantine for 14 days. See an up-to-date list of states 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 traveling to states listed in the New York Travel Advisory.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.