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> COVID19 Environmental Health Services during COVID-19

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Environmental Health Services during COVID-19

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that all non-essential businesses must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8:00 PM on Sunday, March 22. This includes all business except essential business or entities. Click here for a list of Essential Services as defined by NYS.

Information for Businesses and Employees

Guidance for businesses operating as an essential service
Essential Services as defined by NYS

Use of face coverings | Delivery of goods to a home | Delivery of an essential service | Construction work and infection prevention at a job site | Filing a complaint against your employer or a non-essential business | Return to work protocol

Use of face coverings by employees

Delivery of goods to a home
  • If possible, switch all transactions to online payment options.
  • Avoid situations that increase direct contact. Leave items at door.
  • If items cannot be left unattended, notify resident of arrival, leave delivery at door and step back to ensure separation distance.

Delivery of an essential service:
  • Avoid entering home if possible.
  • If an emergency situation requires entering a home, ask whether any resident is showing signs of illness and determine whether the service can be provided with available personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • In situations where a resident is under quarantine or isolation, contact the local health department for guidance before entering the home.

Construction Work During COVID-19 Outbreak

Image of the PDF poster you can download

Infection Prevention Measures On the Jobsite
  • Standard workplace guidance applies, such as stay home if sick, wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, practice social distancing.
  • Additional measures include reduce crew size to the extent possible while maintaining safety, minimize ride sharing, avoid sharing tools, clean and disinfect frequently all frequently touched surfaces, minimize dust and airborne contaminants, use proper PPE.
  • Click here to download a posting sign with this information (letter-size PDF, 148KB).


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How to file a complaint related to Phased Re-opening guidance

  • Complaints about Public Gatherings: call County Dispatch, 607-273-8000
  • Public Complaints about Businesses: Call 2-1-1
  • Public Complaints about Construction Sites: Call 2-1-1
  • Worker Complaints about Working Conditions: NYS Dept of Labor Complaint Hotline 1-888-364-3065, or file using the form at
  • Business Safe Operation or Re-opening Inquiries: Call Tompkins County Environmental Health 607-274-6688,  

PLEASE NOTE: Calls to 9-1-1 should be for emergencies only.

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Protocol for Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure or Infection

Public and private sector organizations that provide essential services or functions where personnel are needed to perform critical functions, including infrastructure, public safety, and other essential operations, may allow personnel who were exposed to or are recovering from COVID-19 to work in the workplace setting, if needed to maintain essential operations.

Specific conditions must be met before essential personnel who have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 can be permitted to return to work in the required workplace setting. Click here for the protocal/ conditions details.

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Environmental Health Program Information and Operations Guidance
Main EH homepage

EH Administration

Update 3/26/20:

Due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, certain non-essential services provided by the Tompkins County Health Department will be suspended. In general, permits for new operations are not being issued. Permit renewals for existing facilities and for failed onsite wastewater treatment systems are still being processed.

Children's Camps

Updated 4/28/20

We encourage you to please continue to submit your applications as in previous years if you think you might operate. Changes to permit applications for 2020 camps will be conveyed as we receive guidance. Please contact our office if you have questions; call 607-274-6688 or email.

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Image of a poster--click to download Food Program:

Updated 4/28/20

  • Restaurants and other food services are deemed essential during the COVID-19 emergency. Food can only be provided as take-out and delivery. No food or drink may be consumed on the premises.
  • All seating areas in restaurants and hotels are to be closed for the duration of the emergency. Food trucks should avoid setting up next to picnic tables to reduce formation of groups.
  • Delivery services should avoid entering a home and maintain social distances.

The NYS Ag and Markets COVID page is updated regularly.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

As part of standard infection control practices, routine cleaning should be rigorous and ongoing. Time should be allocated daily for individuals to routinely clean. Frequently  touched  surfaces must be prioritized for routine cleaning because these surfaces can be reservoirs for germs and an exposure pathway for transmission of COVID- 19.

Cleaning and Disinfection:
  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects.
  • Individuals should use protective equipment (e.g. gloves) as recommended on product labels. Carefully read and follow all label instructions for safe and effective use.
  • Open NYS DOH and AgM guidance for important details. Click here for these and other Resources.
High-risk priority areas for cleaning and disinfecting:
  • High contact surfaces that are touched by many different people, such as light switches, handrails, cart handles, equipment buttons, shared equipment, point of sale devices, and door knobs & handles.
  • Floors and walls.
  • Trash containers.
  • Restrooms.
  • Break rooms and dining areas.
  • Lockers and locker rooms.
  • First aid station or health office
  • Heat and air conditioner vents.
  • Horizontal surfaces and light fixtures.
  • Frequently used equipment.
  • Uniform, protective equipment, and/or linens.
Frequently touched surfaces:
  • Shared equipment.
  • Counters, tables and chairs.
  • Door handles and push plates.
  • Handrails.
  • Kitchen and bathroom faucets.
  • Equipment surfaces.
  • Equipment buttons.
  • Light switches.
  • Remote controls.
  • Shared telephones.
  • Shared computers, keyboards and mice.
  • Shared electronics and phones.


IMPORTANT: If a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 works in your facility or was known to be present in your facility, promptly notify Environmental Health (607-274-6688 anytime) and immediately perform cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces throughout the area.

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Mass Gatherings

All non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are temporarily banned by New York State. See NYS on PAUSE for full information

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS):

Updated 3/26/20

  • *Effective immediately, applications for Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Construction Permits for new construction or conversions will not be processed until further notice.
  • The Department will continue to process applications and issue permits for replacement OWTS when sewage systems are in failure.
  • The Department will also continue to provide inspections for OWTS of any type constructed under existing permits, however, greater than average delays should be expected when scheduling inspections. 

Lastly, through the duration of the State of Emergency, in an effort to maximize social distancing, the Department is encouraging the submittal of applications through our online service ( or by mail (downloads found at*

Rabies Control

AVMA Guidelines for essential veterinary services during the COVID-19 emergency

2020 Rabies Clinics for Pets:
Due to the fluid nature of “stay at home” orders, the Tompkins County Spring rabies clinics may be cancelled or postponed. In the event of a postponement or cancellation, we will notify pre-registrations of the change in schedule. Please continue to check this page for updates.”

Swimming Facilities

Updated 3/26/20

During the current COVID-19 emergency, all gyms, fitness centers, and water parks must be closed.

Changes to lifeguard certification and opening of pools with be updated as we receive guidance. Please continue to check this page for updated information for COVID-19 and preparing to open pools for the summer season.


Updated 4/27/2020

As the COVID-19 trend continues to flatten, the Southern Cayuga Lake Intermunicipal Water Commission (SCLIWC) encourages property and/or business owners to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your building’s water system and devices after a prolonged shutdown.

Steps to take before your business or building reopens

Please download and consult this Prolonged Building Shutdown Reccommendation document for complete details about the areas listed below

  1. Flush your water system
  2. Clean all decorative water features, such as fountains.
  3. Ensure cooling towers are clean and well-maintained
  4. Ensure safety equipment including fire sprinkler systems, eye wash stations, and safety showers are clean and well-maintained
  5. Maintain your water system
    Consider contacting your local water utility to learn about any recent disruptions in the water supply.
  6. Ensure hot tubs/spas are safe for use

Stagnant, or standing water can cause conditions that increase the risk for growth and spread of Legionella and other biofilm-associated bacteria. When water is stagnant, hot water temperatures can decrease to the Legionella growth range (77–108°F, 25–42°C). Stagnant water can also lead to low or undetectable levels of disinfectant, such as chlorine. Ensure that your water system is safe to use after a prolonged shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.

  1. Develop a comprehensive water management program (WMP) for your water system and all devices that use water. Guidance to help with this process is available from CDC and others.
    Water Management Program Toolkit, Hotel Guidance, Preventing Occupational Exposure to Legionella
  2. Ensure your water heater is properly maintained and the temperature is correctly set
Additional Resources


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