- By Dominick Recckio
Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino and Public Health Director Frank Kruppa presented the 16th bi-weekly COVID-19 update to the Tompkins County Legislature at its Tuesday meeting. The update came as the County surpassed 1,000 total positive resident cases since the beginning of the pandemic and as total active cases number reached 193, the highest active number to-date. Kruppa detailed the County's vaccination distribution planning, including his opinion that it is promising how much vaccine the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates will be available for rollout. The Health Department, in partnership with Cayuga Health Systems and long-term care facilities, is discussing how to distribute vaccine to priority populations such as healthcare and long-term care workers.
Molino detailed New York State's 'microcluster' zone metrics, sharing that while it would require a 3.5% infection rate to enter a yellow precautionary zone, the County estimates the local infection rate at ~0.64%.
Kruppa informed the Legislature about the Health Department's contact tracing capacity. Kruppa shared that 47 County staff from other departments have completed the Johns Hopkins contact tracing training and are assisting the Health Department nurses and staff leading the operation. He outlined the reasoning that the Health Department uses nursing staff to speak with positive individuals, including that it's important that there be a medial professional on the other end of the line to answer health related questions and assess close contacts, stating "We believe it's best practice and puts us in a position to provide high quality care to someone who has tested positive with an infectious disease". Kruppa praised the work of the Health Department nursing staff and thanked them for their dedication to stopping the spread of the disease in the community.
When opening the meeting, Legislature Chairwoman Leslyn McBean-Clairborne stated, "I am appealing to folks to please be mindful, careful, and do your part to protect my health and I'll do my part to protect yours. And to the folks in our community who have experienced loss and those who are struggling from contracting this virus, I speak on behalf of this entire Legislature when I say we're thinking about you and sending you positive energy for comfort."