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The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) announced 61 new positive COVID-19 cases on Monday along with a fourth death at Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home. A majority of the 61 cases are resulting from spread within households and small gatherings, such as Thanksgiving or holiday celebrations, where one positive individual who may not have been showing symptoms infects most of their close contacts in those settings. TCHD has issued guidance strongly discouraging all non-essential gatherings and travel. TCHD is also sharing information on the recent spread of COVID-19 and how members of the public can help to stop the spread.

Additionally, the Health Department warned of potential exposure to the virus at Home Depot, Walmart, Ciao, TCAT Bus Route 14S, Triphammer ReUse Center, Mahogany Grill, and Meadow Street TOPS Friendly Markets. (see below for possible exposure dates).

Potential public exposure may have occurred at Home Depot, 410 Elmira Rd., Ithaca during the following date and times:

  • Thursday, December 3, 5:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Friday, December 4, 5:00pm - 9:00pm

Potential public exposure may have occurred at Walmart, 135 Fairgrounds Memorial Parkway, Ithaca during the following date and times:

  • Tuesday, December 1, 7:00am-4:00pm
  • Wednesday, December 2, 7:00am-4:45pm
  • Thursday, December 3, 12:00pm-6:00pm

Potential public exposure may have occurred at Ciao, 2 Hickory Hollow Ln., Ithaca during the following date and times:

  • Sunday, November 29, 3:30pm – 7:45pm

Potential public exposures may have occurred on TCAT Route 14S during the following dates and times:

  • Saturday, November 28, inbound from Overlook Apartments to Walmart, 1:35pm – 1:55pm
  • Monday, November 30, inbound from Overlook Apartments to Walmart, 1:35pm – 1:55pm

Triphammer ReUse Center, 2255 N Triphammer Rd., Ithaca

  • Sunday, December 6, 9:00am - 6:00pm
  • Monday, December 7, 9:00am - 6:30pm
  • Tuesday, December 8, 9:00am - 1:45pm

Mahogany Grill, 112 N Aurora St., Ithaca

  • Thursday, December 3, 9:00am - 4:00pm

TOPS Friendly Markets, Meat Counter, 710 S Meadow St., Ithaca
  • Saturday, December 5, 8:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sunday, December 6, 8:00am – 5:00pm

As of the announcement Monday there were 293 active COVID-19 cases (231 over the previous seven days) and over 1,100 individuals in quarantine in Tompkins County. Some of the recent increase can be attributed to the following:

  • Significant spread at local gatherings, including Thanksgiving celebrations with extended family from outside of New York State or Tompkins County
  • Holiday-related travel from out of state or county
  • Small clusters of employees at local businesses
  • A number of positive cases associated with local higher education institutions (dashboards can be found here)
  • Several entire households testing positive, including large multi-family households
  • Over 100 cases cannot identify where they might have contracted the disease.
  • To help stop the spread from small gatherings:
  • Do not gather with others at this time. Instead of small gatherings, consider virtual alternatives with friends and family outside your household.
  • Avoid becoming a close contact. A close contact is defined as anyone who is within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more (over a 24-hour period) of someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
  • If you must gather with others, do so outdoors while wearing masks and keeping 6 feet apart from one another.
  • To help stop the spread at workplaces:
  • Continue mask-wearing in all settings when you might interact with others.
  • Limit interactions with co-workers and reduce density as possible. Use virtual alternatives for meetings and other gatherings.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from one another at all times.
  • Exercise remote work options when possible.
  • To help stop community spread:
  • Limit all non-essential travel. If you travel outside of New York and contiguous states, closely follow travel, quarantine, and testing guidance.
  • Limit all interactions with others outside of your own home. Carefully consider if your outing is essential each time you go out.
  • Wear a mask when outside your home, and only remove it if you know you will not be within 6 feet or interact with someone else.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “We are seeing in real-time how quickly COVID-19 spreads and the ripple effect that our actions have on others close to us, as well as on the wider community. In addition to being careful and following the guidance, we’re asking people to be patient — if we hold off on gathering now, we can bring the positive case number down and keep our family members from getting sick and being negatively impacted.” Kruppa continued, “Our thoughts are with the family of the individual who passed today, and with all of those who are impacted by COVID-19. We all have a responsibility to keep each other healthy and stop the disease from spreading and hurting others.”

The Tompkins County Health Department continues to manage contact investigations and tracing. TCHD also recently reminded the community about quarantine and isolation requirements.

Senior Community Health Nurse Rachel Buckwalter stated, “Our team is doing a remarkable job managing the increase in cases. Each case that we report is not just one potentially sick individual who needs daily checks, it also results in another contact investigation that may find dozens of other contacts who have to quarantine and be checked on daily. As we’ve seen cases rise, we have also seen hospitalizations increase. We urge everyone to remember that staying home has helped to keep our numbers low in Tompkins County and is the best tool we have to stopping the spread of the disease.”

Kruppa added, “As small gatherings contribute to the spread, we’re seeing the impact on essential businesses and essential workers. These are the individuals who have been on the front lines of keeping our community open and safe, and it’s imperative that we keep them in mind as we work to stop the spread.”