The Tompkins County Health Department reported that someone who rode the TCAT route 30 bus on Wednesday tested positive for COVID-19.
Exposures may have happened on Route 30 outbound between 11:51 a.m. to 12:26 p.m. to the Shops at Ithaca Mall, then on Route 30 inbound from 2:28 p.m. to 2:51 p.m. to Seneca Street on Aug. 26.
If passengers were on the bus route during these times, TCHD recommends that they get tested for COVID-19. Cornell students should call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 — students should not go to arrival or surveillance testing sites since this would be testing for cause.
If passengers aren’t Cornell students, they can get tested at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site at the The Shops at Ithaca Mall. People can register for Cayuga Health Samping Site appointments at cayugahealthsystem.org or by calling the Cayuga Health Call Center at 607-319-5708. The Sampling Site and Call Center are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Those who need transportation assistance to the Cayuga Health Sampling Site can call 211 after they have made a testing appointment for help finding transportation to the testing site.
“The potential public exposures that we identified were while the individual was riding the bus. It is important that anyone who was a passenger during this time on route 30 get tested and monitor themselves for symptoms,” said Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director.
Even if people test negative, TCHD recommends that passengers monitor themselves for potential symptoms for two weeks after the bus ride and get tested again if they become symptomatic. Symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath. Falsely negative test results are always a possibility, but an additional test reduces this risk.
“Protecting our riders and employees throughout this pandemic remains our top priority,” said TCAT General Manager Scot Vanderpool.
In March, TCAT altered its operations in response to the pandemic, implementing public health measures, reducing the bus schedule and limiting buses to 25 riders at a time. Riders must wear face coverings and buses must have hand sanitizing stations. While TCAT buses are currently fare free to encourage social distancing, TCAT will charge fees again on Sept. 6 after it installs driver shields to create a barrier between drivers and riders.
TCAT employees disinfect the whole bus fleet every day, and are required to self monitor symptoms and get temperature checks before work. TCAT asks that riders wash their hands, practice physical distancing and stay home and off the buses if they are symptomatic.
After identifying a positive case, TCHD contact tracer nurses talk to these people, supporting their health needs and determining if they have already exposed others. In the case that not all close contacts can be determined, TCHD puts out a public health alert.
The most recent of these public health alerts was last week, when an employee of Simeon’s American Bistro tested positive for COVID-19, and may have exposed patrons and fellow staff during several of their shifts.
As of Thursday, Ithaca has 11 active cases of COVID-19, four of which are members of the Cornell community.