- By Samantha Hillson, Tompkins County Health Department
Following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County and surrounding areas, the Tompkins County Health Department is urging the community to remainvigilant and continue to take steps to reduce community transmission of COVID-19. The HealthDepartment is also reminding residents of quarantine and isolation requirements, and that all non-essentialgatherings and travel are strongly discouraged. Previous recent health alerts (below) warned of oissible exposure at BJ’s Wholesale Club, Ithaca Ale House, the Meadow Street Walgreens, and TCAT Route 32.
"We are seeing our highest numbers of cases since the start of this pandemic. It is not even a week since Thanksgiving, and we are already seeing evidence of spread due to small gatherings and people visiting friends and family for the holiday. More than half of our 34 cases on December 1 are connected to Thanksgiving gatherings and related travel," stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director. "Health Department nurses and contact tracers are working through unprecedented numbers of cases, and continue to maintain excellent turn-around time in notifying all positive cases and close contacts. However, due to the high volumes of cases in surrounding areas, we are seeing delays in our Health Department being notified of positive cases in those counties who may have close contacts or exposures here in Tompkins County. This has a ripple effect, causing delays in Tompkins County residents being notified to begin quarantine." Kruppa detailed the County's contact tracing capacity in a presentation to the Tompkins County Legislature on December 1; that presentation can be viewed on the County's YouTube channel.
The Tompkins County Health Department is alerting the public of a potential COVID-19 exposure. The Health Department received notification of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and worked at Ithaca Ale House during the time when they could have infected others. Another individual who tested positive rode on TCAT Route 32 when they could have infected others. The individuals who tested positive are in isolation and any close contacts are in quarantine.
Last week the Health Department received notification of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and worked at BJ’s Wholesale Club during the time when they could have infected others. The individual who tested positive is in isolation and any close contacts are in quarantine.
Potential public exposures may have occurred at BJ’s Wholesale Club, 40 Graham Rd., Ithaca during the following dates and times:
- Tuesday, November 10, 7:45 am – 3:45 pm
- Wednesday, November 11, 1:15 pm – 9:15 pm
- Friday, November 13, 7:45 am – 3:45 pm
- Saturday, November 14, 1:15 pm – 9:15 pm
- Sunday, November 15, 7:45 am – 3:45 pm
Potential public exposures may have occurred at Ithaca Ale House, 111 N. Aurora St., Ithaca during the following date and times:
- Friday, November 27, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Potential public exposure may have occurred at the pharmacy in Walgreens, 615 S. Meadow St., Ithaca during the following date and times:
- Sunday, November 29, 9:15 am – 5:00 pm
Potential public exposures may have occurred on TCAT Route 32 during the following date and times:
- Wednesday, November 25, Route 32: Outbound from Green St. at 6:00 pm
If you were at any of these locations during the dates and times above, please do the following:
It is recommended that you get tested at a Cayuga Health Sampling Site:
- Mass Sampling Site: The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd. Regular hours, Monday-Friday 8:30AM-4:00PM.
- Downtown Sampling Site: 412 N. Tioga St. Monday-Friday 8:00AM-4:00PM
- Appointment Required. Register for an appointment online at cayugahealthsystem.org or call the Cayuga Health Call Center at 607-319-5708. Regular hours for the Call Center are Monday-Friday 8:30AM-4:00PM. Cayuga Health occasionally adds weekend or extended hours. Please call 607-319-5708 for updated information.
- Monitor your health for any symptoms of cough, fever, congestion, and shortness of breath for 14 days from the last time specified above that you were at this business. For a full list of symptoms, go to the TCHD website.
- If you seek testing and the result is negative, continue to monitor your health for the full 14 days from the last time specified above that you were at this business. If you become symptomatic, seek testing again.
- If potentially exposed, Cornell University students should contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155; do not go to an arrival or surveillance testing site.
- All other students and community members should seek testing at a Cayuga Health Sampling Site.
“Anyone who may have been at Ithaca Ale House or on TCAT Route 32 during these times should seek a test and closely monitor themselves for symptoms. To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, we’re reminding everyone to continue to wear a mask, stay six feet apart, and consider density when going out,” stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director. “The Ithaca Ale House employee was wearing a mask at all times while serving the public and the business is following all COVID-19 precautions and cleaning protocols. TCAT requires all drivers and passengers to wear masks while on the bus and TCAT has extensive cleaning and safety measures in place.”
Close contacts of an individual with a positive test result must quarantine for 14 days past the last date of exposure, and should get tested for COVID-19. A negative diagnostic COVID-19 test does not end or shorten the quarantine period.
Key actions to take if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case and need to Quarantine:
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Watch for fever (100°F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Stay away from others in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom, if possible
- The Health Department will call with further instructions. If you have difficulty continuing to quarantine, discuss your situation with the contact tracer.
Key actions to take if you test positive for COVID-19 and need to Isolate:
- The Health Department nurses contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 once the result is received. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days past the onset of symptoms or 10 days past the date of their positive test sample collection or as instructed by the Health Department.
- Stay away from others in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom.
- Wait for a call from the Health Department for further instructions and daily monitoring.
- If you develop new symptoms or need medical care, call your primary care provider first. Do not go to the ER or Urgent Care without speaking to your primary care provider. In case of emergency, call 911 and state that you are under isolation for COVID-19.
- Stay isolated in a separate room from other household members at all times.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible. If this is not possible you must sanitize bathroom fixtures and surfaces immediately after use.
- Have all meals and other needs—medicines, personal items—brought to your bedroom door.
- You cannot go to work, school, public places, or social gatherings.
- Avoid all contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don't share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a mask if you need to be around other people, if medically tolerable.