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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.


This Page
  • Information previously posted on this website
    • Action icons
    • Press conference March 9, 2020
    • Autumn Season Activities
    • Safe Voting
    • Holiday Season
    • Tips for Shopping

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Information previously posted on our site


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 System; Samantha Hillson, TCHD Public Information Officer.


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  • Vaccines protect us all
  • Testing--Getting tested helps stop the spread
  • Data--Stay informed about what's happening in our community
  • Positive cases must isolate
  • 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
  • Menta 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
  • Stay Home for the Holidays

  • 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

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 


Halloween

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:

Hayrides
  • 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 https://agriculture.ny.gov/coronavirus.


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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Stay Safe This Holiday Season

Stay home for the holidays iconThe holidays will be different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fall and winter holidays are usually a time for gathering with family and friends. This year, make safety the top priority.

Celebrate at home
  • The Tompkins County Health Department is strongly discouraging all travel and non-essential gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Celebrate with your household
  • The Health Department urges single household gatherings only — the people you have been in close contact with during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Your household includes the people you are and have been living with in your house or apartment. College students returning home are from a different household, and proper precautions should be taken for a minimum of 14 days. Follow Travel Advisory guidance for anyone entering New York State from outside our contiguous states.
  • All gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people at private residences both indoors and outdoors by Executive Order of the Governor (EO 202.74).
Why this is important
  • Image of Flyer for Stay Safe for the HolidaysPrivate social gatherings, where households mix or individuals move from one gathering to another, are now one of the primary ways that COVID-19 is spreading. Locally, these activities contributed directly to the largest one-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.
  • During the gathering there will be long stretches of time when guests are unmasked to eat or drink. Speaking without a mask, especially when louder than normal conversation, increases the amount of small, aerosol-size particles that go into the air. These particles can carry the virus, and be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Consider alternatives this year
  • Have a small dinner with only people who live in your household.
  • Prepare meals for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them contact-free.
  • Have a virtual dinner and share recipes with friends and family.
  • Shop online (including local small businesses) rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or other holiday shopping days.
  • Watch sports events, parades, and movies from home.
Links to more tips and ideas

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Tips for Shopping

The holidays are a traditional time for shopping — for gifts, for home decorations, and for special meals. For some in our community, this may be the first time in months that they are in a store for more than just their weekly groceries. That means all of us need to be especially vigilant with how we conduct ourselves when in indoor public spaces.

In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions. Keep these items on hand when venturing out: a face mask, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Before you go
  • Do not go shopping if you feel sick, are experiencing systems of COVID-19 such as fever or cough, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Make a list of what you need and stick to the list. This will help you keep from lingering in one place while you think about what you need, and shorten the overall time you spend in the store.
  • Don’t forget your mask, a required item when in public spaces.
  • Hand sanitizer may be available in the stores you visit, but bring your own just in case.
  • Consider alternatives to in-person shopping; shop online when able to or order for curbside pick-up if available.
  • If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours.
While you are shopping
  • Use the disposable sanitizer towels provided in many stores to wipe down cart handles, child seats, and basket handles; hand sanitizing stations may also be available.
  • Limit number of items touched to things you plan on purchasing. Some stores will have baskets for you to put touched items into for sanitizing if you change your mind about purchasing.
  • Limit your contact with frequently used surfaces in the checkout area, such as candy racks, counter areas, and credit card readers.
  • Make sure the store staff sanitize the checkout area between every customer, including conveyor belts and card reader areas. At self-checkout areas, make sure all surfaces are sanitized between every customer.
  • Some stores require customers to keep and fill reusable bags in their carts and not on store counters. Others may have temporarily banned the use of reusable shopping bags during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Do not consume any food or drink while in a store. Your face mask should keep your mouth and nose covered at all times.
  • Maintain distance of 6 feet between you and other shoppers. Many stores will have markings for one-way shopping or distance markers. Please follow store guidance accordingly.
When you get home
  • Wash your hands well: use soap and water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds upon arriving at your home.
  • Unpack safely at home. Currently, the risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from food products, food packaging, or bags is thought to be low. However, it is always important to follow good food safety practices.
  • Wipe down cans, jars, bottles, and boxes.
  • Do NOT use disinfectants designed for hard surfaces, such as bleach or ammonia, on food packaged in cardboard or plastic wrap.
  • Wash produce before you put it away.
  • Wipe down countertops, refrigerator and door handles, and other surfaces in the area you unloaded and put away your groceries.
  • Clean your phone if you used it while you were out.

 


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