After Tompkins County saw fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases for all of June, the past week saw 26 new cases. On Monday, there were zero new cases, but 32 active cases overall and three active hospitalizations in the county — the first since May 29.
The Southern Tier Region, which includes Tompkins County, entered phase four of reopening June 26, when there had only been three new cases in three weeks. This phase allows “low-risk indoor and outdoor arts and entertainment, film and TV production, higher education and professional sports without fans,” according to New York State guidelines.
But now, Tompkins County joins a nationwide trend of spiking cases, as states and localities reopened after months of quarantine. Daily new cases have hit record highs in the U.S., with 43 states reporting increases in active cases.
In New York overall, cases have remained largely the same. As of Monday, all regions of New York State were in phase four, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced.
More than 2,000 tests have been administered in the past week, 800 of which have been since July 16 — when Cornell began testing for students who are currently living in Ithaca.
The announcement of student testing from Vice Provost for Academic Integration Gary Koretzky and Vice President for Students and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi came as cases in Tompkins County started to increase, following Fourth of July related traveling and celebrations.
On July 14 — when Tompkins County saw a 10-case increase in a single day — the health department reminded residents of mask requirements and quarantine guidelines.
Five of these cases were related to out-of-state travel, four were related to a known case at a local Fourth of July gathering where social distancing and mask wearing were not observed and one case was connected to an active positive case with all close contacts identified, according to the press release.
“The recent increase in positive cases in our community is concerning, we have to continue taking this virus seriously and doing what we can to stop it from continuing to spread in Tompkins County,” said Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa in the release. “We’ve all worked hard to keep our numbers low and to help protect our friends and families, we can’t let that hard work go to waste by not following the guidance.”
On Monday, TCHD also announced a positive COVID-19 case in a local skilled nursing facility. While the positive individual is asymptomatic, the New York State Department of Health assumed responsibility for the contact investigation because of the case’s nature.
Nursing home populations are at a high risk of infection from the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of July 15, there have been over 316,000 cases at some 14,000 nursing home facilities across the country — accounting for 9 percent of all cases. Nursing homes also account for 42 percent of the country’s deaths and the majority of deaths in 23 states.