(ITHACA, NY, August 10, 2023) – Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) is alerting the community to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases throughout our county and the importance of being up to date on your COVID-19 vaccination.
Over the past 4 weeks (July 2023-August 2023), Tompkins County’s 7-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases has increased to an average of 3 new cases per day. Comparatively, this time last month the 7-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases was at 1 new case per day. While some variation is to be expected, the upward trend highlights the need for the community to take precautions. This upward trend is reflective of trends across New York State and nationally. Hospitalization rates in Tompkins County have remained low, with 3 hospital admissions due to COVID-19 reported for August 9th, 2023.
TCWH encourages community members to consider being proactive by wearing high-quality masks when indoors and consider personal risk when gathering with others. COVID-19 can make even healthy people very sick and cause serious complications in children younger than 5, pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Fever or chills
- New loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Seek testing if you are experiencing symptoms or may have had close contact with a known positive. PCR tests are available at Cayuga Medical Center’s Immediate Care, Guthrie, Well-Now, at select local pharmacies, or through your primary healthcare provider. Those who test positive should avoid contact with others, including staying home from work, school, and social activities.
At-home tests are available to the community at no cost at Tompkins County Whole Health’s office at 55 Brown Road (Ithaca), and at locations throughout the county. At-home tests can also be purchased at local pharmacies. The expiration dates on many at-home tests have been extended. Do not discard any kits you may have without checking for an extended expiration date. A list of expiration date extensions is available online.
If a test is positive, it's important to begin treatment as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms to ensure the utmost effectiveness. COVID-19 medications are widely available by prescription through doctors, pharmacies, and healthcare clinics. Antivirals such as Paxlovid are most effective when started within five days of the onset of symptoms.
Whole Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa stated, “We can anticipate that with an increase of travel during the summer months and the return of students to our area, we will see a corresponding rise in COVID-19 cases in our community. This trend is reflective of early fall in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The steps to reduce risk of infection and prevent the spread of disease include limiting gatherings, wearing a high-quality mask when indoors around others, seeking testing and staying home when feeling ill, and keeping current on your vaccination status. If you have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine series or a bivalent booster, please do so.”
If you are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, now is the time to do so. Everyone 6 months of age and over who has completed their original vaccination series at least two months ago is eligible to receive a bivalent booster. Receiving an updated booster dose will increase your protection against current variants, reducing severity of illness should you become infected. Boosters are available at pharmacies and through healthcare providers. COVID-19 vaccines remain free of cost, though you may be asked to provide health insurance if you have it. Search online at vaccines.gov or dial 211 for assistance.
Whole Health Medical Director Dr. William Klepack stated, “COVID-19 bivalent boosters remain free of cost and are readily available at pharmacies and healthcare providers. Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 — it protects not only you but also limits the spread of illness to your loved ones and others.”
COVID-19 vaccines, along with other routine childhood and adult vaccinations, are available at Tompkins County Whole Health’s Immunization Clinics to those who are uninsured or underinsured. To check your eligibility or schedule an appointment, please call the Community Health Services division at: 607-274-6604.
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program offers state funded vaccines to eligible children less than 19 years of age. Your children may be eligible for VFC if they:
- Are currently enrolled in Medicaid
- Have Child Health Plus
- Are underinsured: their insurance does not cover the vaccine
- Do not have insurance
- Are Native American or Alaska Native
The Vaccines for Adults (VFA) program offers state funded vaccines to eligible adults ages 19 and over. You may be eligible for VFA if you:
- Are underinsured: your insurance does not cover the vaccine
- Do not have insurance
- College students of any age are eligible to receive the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine through the VFA program, regardless of insurance status.
For updated local COVID-19 Data, visit: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/covid19dashboard
For additional information on COVID-19, including prevention, symptoms and more, visit: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/covid19.