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Health Alert Update: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Health Alert Update: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Monday, March 9, 2020

The Tompkins County Health Department is working closely with community partners to prevent and respond to the evolving novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York State, with the most updated numbers on the NYS Department of Health website. There are currently no cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County and the burden of the disease in our community is low because there is currently no path of exposure. As of Sunday afternoon, March 8, 2020, Tompkins County has one person under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. That individual is in isolation with test results pending.

***Watch Tompkins County News Conference on Community Preparations and Response here. *** 

The best ways to protect yourself and slow the spread of illness are to take everyday actions - stay home if you are sick, cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or elbow, and wash your hands well and often. Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) continues to monitor and respond with guidance from NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Public health response is focused on containment of the virus and preparation for community response.

For the past several weeks, TCHD Community Health Nurses have been monitoring individuals who are healthy and asymptomatic in quarantine. As of 12pm on March 9, 2020, 47 people in Tompkins County have been quarantined, 8 were released without symptoms following the 14 day quarantine period, and 39 are still being monitored. To date, none of those in quarantine have developed symptoms.

  • Quarantine means separating a healthy person or group of healthy people who have been exposed to a contagious disease away from others.
  • Quarantine occurs in a specific designated location (i.e. home) for the purpose of observing and monitoring for the development of symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Basic essential daily living items like food, water, and prescribed medications will be supplied to the person throughout the duration of the quarantine order.
  • The person must stay quarantined in the specific designated location until the health department releases the individual. The person cannot leave the location to go to work, school, play, or other public places.
  • Tompkins County Health Department nurses monitor health status for the 14-day period daily by phone asking for temperature once a day and other health questions. If a person in quarantine develops symptoms, the nurse will determine if the person should seek medical attention and will inform the individual of any precautions to protect others.

In response to a communicable disease, sick individuals are isolated from others to prevent spread of disease. The Health Department uses isolation measures routinely for communicable disease that are passed person-to-person (eg. measles, mumps, and Tuberculosis). If an individual develops symptoms while in quarantine, a community health nurse will determine if the person should seek medical attention and will inform everyone involved of any precautions to be taken.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If a tissue is not available, cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid handshakes and hugs, use an elbow bump instead
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

As always, if you develop symptoms of illness including fever, cough, or trouble breathing, contact your healthcare provider. Call ahead to explain your symptoms and any recent travel history. As this situation evolves, TCHD will continue to send out updates.

For more information call the Health Department at 607-274-6604 or go to