- By Samantha Hillson, Tompkins County Health Department
The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) reported last Saturday that two Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home residents died from COVID-19. The deaths were confirmed by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), the agency that manages contact investigations and testing for long term care and skilled nursing facilities in the state.
39 Oak Hill Manor residents and 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Oak Hill Manor administrators are working with the NYS DOH to complete contact investigations and to isolate all positive cases to stop the spread. TCHD continues to work with nursing homes in Tompkins County through regular calls, but NYS DOH takes over all monitoring if positive cases occur in long-term care and skilled nursing facilities.
Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, "Our thoughts are with the families of those who passed, and with all of those who are battling the disease. The spread of COVID-19 at this nursing home shows how quickly the virus is transmitted, and how it can have devastating impacts on older adults and people with pre-existing health concerns."
The cases at Oak Hill Manor are reported alongside a total of 174 over the past 7 days, and 188 active cases in Tompkins County. Data trends outlining the recent spike in cases can be found on the Tompkins County Health Department website.
Kruppa stated, "This is an unprecedented spike of cases in Tompkins County. Consistent days of 20 plus new cases puts a strain on our healthcare system and increases the potential for community spread. Our Health Department nurses and County staff are working seven days a week to help stop the spread by identifying and quarantining contacts of positive cases and checking in on those who are in isolation and quarantine."
"The actions we all take have a direct impact on others. The disease is spreading at a rapid pace and we all need to act with renewed caution," Kruppa continued. "We continue to strongly discourage all non-essential gatherings and travel, and encourage mask-wearing, staying six feet apart, and monitoring yourself closely for symptoms. Testing before traveling is giving people false assurances; an individual who tests negative one day can be positive the next. We know how to stop the spread in our community and urge everyone to act with caution and vigilance."
Cayuga Health System and Tompkins County opened an additional COVID-19 sampling location in downtown Ithaca at 412 N. Tioga St. on Friday, November 27. The new sampling location is a saliva collection site and was opened to support individuals residing in downtown Ithaca and other locations who may have limited transportation. The Mass Sampling Site at The Shops at Ithaca Mall remains open. Appointments are required for both sites and can be made through on-line registration at www.cayugahealth.org or through the Call Center at 607-319-5708.