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> 2019 Novel Coronavirus

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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The 2019 novel coronavirus is a rapidly evolving situation. Following guidance from the CDC and NYSDOH, we are working closely with County Administration, elected officials, and community partners, including Cayuga Health System and other healthcare providers. The health and well-being of our community is our top priority.

  • Distance--Please do not form lines or groups. Keep 6 feet of distance at all times
  • Density--Avoid entering crowded rooms or areas. Reduce occupancy to allow for proper distancing
  • Face Covering--You must wear a face covering when in public buildings and outdoor spaces around others
  • Hand Hygiene--Wash hands well and often. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often
  • Symptoms--If you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or body aches, stay home and get tested
  • Mental Health--COVID-19 affects everyone's well-being. If you are struggling, it's OK to ask fro support
  • Travel--Non essential travel is discouraged. Quarantine is required when arriving in NYS from high spread states
  • Quarantine--If you are required to quarantine be responsible and follow all guidance for the full 14 days

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Information previously posted on our site

Autumn Season

  • There are many popular outdoor activities during the Fall season. In all cases during COVID-19, please follow these universal precautions for health and safety:
  • always wear a face covering when with anyone from a different household, except when eating or drinking (fun seasonal masks from Tompkins Mask Makers);
  • limit mixing people from different households, especially people from households that are outside your community;
  • limit the size and duration of gatherings;
  • maintain 6 feet of distance between people and do not over crowd your space;
  • limit alcohol use.

Halloween  |  Trick or Treat  |  Harvest Activities  |  Voting 


Sign that says Trick or Treaters WelcomeMany traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween this year. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, do not feel well, or if you know that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in Halloween festivities in-person, and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. Listed below are ideas for low risk, moderate risk, and high risk activities.

Source: CDC.
For additional details and ideas, visit the CDC Halloween web page.

Lower risk activities

These lower risk activities can be safe alternatives:

  • Pumpkin carving or decorating inside with members of your household. Then put them out for neighbors to see
  • Pumpkin carving or decorating outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • A Halloween scavenger hunt where household members look for particular Halloween-themed things in their neighborhood, or hidden right in their home
  • A virtual Halloween costume contest
  • A Halloween movie night with household members
Moderate risk activities

Trick or Treating

  • "One-way" trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
    • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after preparing the bags.
    • For more info about Trick or Treat safety, see our Trick or Treat Safety guidelines here.

Costume activities

  • Outdoor, open-air costume parade with a limited number of people, and everyone is distanced 6 feet apart
  • Outdoor, open-air costume party where everyone wears a protective face covering, and attendence is limited to allow people can remain more than 6 feet apart
    • A costume mask is not a substitute for a protective mask. A protective mask is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric, covers the mouth and nose, and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
    • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
Higher risk activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors

Trick or Treat Safety

  • Image of a flyer about Trick or Treat safetyTrick or treating is considered a moderate risk activity.
  • Stay home if you don’t feel well, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19!
  • Neighbors and Trick or Treaters, please follow these important safety guidelines:
  • Distance
    • Neighbors: Prepare individually wrapped treat bags, and put them outside your door where Trick-or-Treaters can get them and stay distanced. Put treats out separately, rather than in a bowl. Do not allow or encourage Trick-or-Treaters to knock on your door or ring your doorbell.
    • Trick or Treaters: Group only with members of your household. Keep 6 feet of distance from people not in your household, and do not share or trade treats. Please do not approach front doors, and instead pick up individual treats at a distance.
  • Face Covering
    • Neighbors: Wear a face covering when preparing treat bags, when taking your treats outdoors, and if you are greeting trick or treaters, while maintaining 6 feet of distance.
    • Trick-or-Treaters: You must wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth at all times while trick or treating. A costume mask is not a suitable substitute for a cloth face covering. Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth face covering because it makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth face covering.
  • Density
    • Neighbors: Place your treats as close to the sidewalk or edge of your property as is practical to avoid crowding and congestion along narrow walkways or entryways.
    • Trick-or-Treaters: Please don’t crowd porches, sidewalks, or entryways. Only one household at a time should go on a neighbor’s property for treats. Make sure your household group stays at least 6 feet away from other groups. Household groups need to take turns, so please be patient so everyone stays safe and has fun!
  • Hand Hygiene
    • Neighbors: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing your treats, and anytime you take a break from preparation activities.
    • Trick-or-Treaters: Wait until you get home before you eat any of your treats, and discard any that are unwrapped or damaged. Consider carrying hand sanitizer with you, and use it between households. Wash your hands well with soap and water when you get home.
  • Do not share costumes unless they are laundered first.
  • Never share costume masks unless they are thoroughly sanitized.  
  • Click here to download the Welcome sign and safety guidance (PDF)
  • NYS guidance document, click here (PDF)

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Harvest Activities

NYS has released guidance for visitors to and operators of farm and harvest related businesses and attractions (agritourism) that are popular during the Autumn season. The guidance generally follows already established guidance with enhanced or additional precautions. An FAQ for Agritourism, released by NYS Ag. & Markets is available here.

The following activities are permitted consistent with NYS Low Risk Outdoor Arts and Entertainment guidance and the following conditions: 

Corn Mazes
  • Reduced capacity
  • Face coverings required
  • Social distance maintained between individuals/parties
Pick-Your-Own Fruit/Vegetables Operations
  • Reduced capacity
  • Face coverings required
  • Social distance maintained between individuals/parties.
Haunted Houses
  • Reduced capacity
  • Face coverings required
  • Social distance maintained between individuals/parties

The following activities are permitted consistent with NYS Public Transportation guidance and the following conditions:

  • Mandatory face coverings
  • Social distance required between individuals/parties
  • Frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, cleaned and sanitized between rides

Petting zoos are not permitted.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued a full slate of guidelines for the agricultural industry, including guidance for farmers' markets and for its food and beverage producers. All guidance can be found at

Safe Voting

Extra care is being taken by the Tompkins County Board of Elections to make voting as safe as possible during COVID-19. It is important for everyone who is registered to vote to cast their ballot, and to do so with safety in mind for both themself and for all others who are making their voice heard in this election.

  • All poll workers have been thoroughtly trained in COVID-19 protocols
  • All voters will be given disposable gloves to increase safety at individual booths
  • Masks will be available for anyone who does not have one
  • All indoor areas will be sanitized regularly
Voting Options for the 2020 General Election
  • Absentee voting
    • Allows ballots to be cast without going to an indoor facility where the chance of exposure to the coronavirus is higher. Learn about applying for an absentee ballot. The deadline for applying is Oct. 27.
    • Ballots can be mailed, or put into a secure dropbox. Get dropbox location information here.
  • In-person voting
    • Masks are required to be worn at all times at the polling place.
    • Proper social distancing must be maintained at the site.
    • Early Voting:
      • There are likely to be fewer people in the voting area at any given time, so less chance of exposure to the coronavirus.
      • The early voting period is Saturday, Oct. 24 through Sunday, Nov. 1.
      • Click here for early voting times and locations.
    • Election Day Voting, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.  
Links to Resources


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Press Conference, March 9, 2020, 2:00 p.m.

Rice Conference Room, Tompkins County Health Department. Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County Public Health Director, Jason Molino, Tompkins County Administrator, Martin Stallone, M.D., CEO, Cayuga Health Systems

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