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County Officials Hold Virtual COVID-19 Update, Answer Questions from the Public on Vaccines and Guidance to Stop the Spread

Tompkins County Public Health and Emergency Operations Center officials held a virtual COVID-19 update Wednesday detailing the recent spike in positive cases and answering questions from the public. The update is archived on the County’s YouTube channel.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa presented information on the recent spike in cases, guidance to help stop the spread, vaccine distribution planning, and New York State’s winter COVID-19 strategy. Kruppa clarified that the County’s vaccine distribution plan has been approved by New York State and that his team meets regularly with Cayuga Health System and other community partners to operationalize plans. Kruppa stated, “When you get your vaccine is going to depend on how much we get and how quickly we are able to distribute to the priority populations (healthcare and long-term care workers and residents). We will be very clear about where you can get your vaccine when the time comes.” This week, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo shared that the Southern Tier region will receive 4,500 doses of the vaccine initially.

Regarding the recent spike of COVID-19, Kruppa added, “We have an opportunity to make a difference in the next two weeks. We talk to every single positive case and we’re able to make connections with active cases – we’re finding that entire households are contracting COVID. I know it’s so difficult this holiday season but we’re asking folks to limit gatherings to your normal households. We have well over 1,000 people in quarantine, all of the close contacts of cases have had their lives upended, making this season even more challenging. More vigilance and patience from everyone will make a big difference.”

Details on quarantine and isolation requirements were clarified, as well as local benchmarks on the Governor Cuomo’s cluster action initiative. When asked about whether Tompkins County was at risk of entering a New York State Yellow, Orange, or Red ‘precautionary zone’ with greater restrictions, County Administrator Jason Molino shared that it’s estimated that the County’s infection rate is around 1.93% on a 7-day rolling average. “The community has been great with responsiveness to what we’re asking them to do. It’s hard but we’re asking the community to continue to do the right things.”

In recognition of the pending changes to NYS’s eviction moratorium, the County Legislature would like to remind folks that Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Service’s Rental Relief Program remains available for help and community partners such as GIAC can support folks in completing the online application if needed. The county has extended its funding to this program into the summer of 2021 and encourages community members and partners to spread the word about this program.

Legislature Chairwoman Leslyn McBean-Clairborne shared sentiments leading into the holiday season, stating “It’s the start of the holiday season, usually a time of good tidings – this year there’s a cloud hanging over it, but for many of us we can help bring some sunshine through the cloud if we do our best to protect ourselves and each other from this virus.”

McBean-Clairborne called on residents to contact their federal government representatives to advocate for stimulus funding and help for every day Americans, stating, “One of the things we all can do is do our part reaching out to our federal government – families need help, we have the richest country in the world and people should not be struggling with decisions around whether they should risk their life.”

Up-to-date information on COVID-19 can be found on the Tompkins County Health Department’s website:

The December 9th COVID-19 update can be viewed in its entirety on the Tompkins County YouTube channel: