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COVID-19 Update: Testing Site Holiday Schedule, Guidance for Gatherings

(Ithaca, N.Y., November 22, 2022) – The Tompkins County Health Department is reminding the community of public health measures to practice for safe holiday gatherings, along with important updates regarding the Cayuga Health System Sampling Site hours.

Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “The Tompkins County Health Department would like to wish everyone in our community a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. We are grateful for the steps you take every day to protect yourself, your family, and our community. We hope you enjoy the holiday, safely, and consider the following measures when planning to gather with others.”

TEST FOR COVID-19

The Cayuga Health Mass Sampling Site for COVID-19 PCR testing at the Shops at Ithaca Mall (40 Catherwood Rd.) will close at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, November 23, to allow results to be processed before the holiday observance.

The site will be closed for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24. The Sampling Site will reopen normal hours Friday, November 25, 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM and Sunday, November 27, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM.  Visit www.CayugaHealth.org to schedule your appointment or call the Call Center at: 607-319-5708. Please note that the Call Center and Brown Road’s COVID-19 Lab will also be closed on Thursday, November 24, in observance of Thanksgiving Day.

COVID-19 self-tests are recommended for individuals who do not have symptoms and are seeking quick results to identify infection or increase confidence that you are not positive for COVID-19.

A self-test can be used as a prevention measure before gathering indoors with others who are not in your household. This is especially important before gathering with individuals who are unvaccinated, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at greater risk of severe disease.

COVID-19 self-tests are available in the community, free of charge, at distribution locations such as municipal centers and public libraries. Please contact the location closest to you before seeking a test kit to determine availability. The FDA has extended the shelf-life of these tests; please check your test kit’s stock number online to determine the kit’s new expiration date.

If you test positive with a self-test kit, you should immediately isolate  for 5 days from the positive test result or the onset of symptoms, whichever occurs first. Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for an additional 5 days following isolation. Complete the Self-Test Reporting Formfor Tompkins County residents. The online form will ask for basic contact information and to upload a photo of your test kit result. A follow-up PCR test is not necessary. Once you receive a positive test result, regardless of the type of test, you are considered a positive case and should isolate from others.

VACCINATE AGAINST FLU & COVID-19

Vaccination against the Flu and COVID-19 are essential steps that can help prevent spread of disease as well as reduce severity of disease should you become ill.

Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines are available at many locations throughout our community, including healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, and clinics. Everyone 6 months of age and over should be vaccinated every year against the flu. Everyone ages 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against COVID-19, and everyone ages 5 and older can now receive an updated bivalent booster dose.

To get a flu or COVID-19 vaccine, call your primary care provider or schedule with a local pharmacy. You can also use the Vaccine Finder to find a location near you.

Most health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the cost of an annual flu vaccination (COVID-19 vaccines remain free of charge). If you do not have insurance or your insurance is not accepted, you can schedule an appointment at the Health Department’s Immunization Clinics, open to adults ages 18+ who are uninsured or underinsured, and for children age 17 and under who are uninsured, underinsured, Medicaid recipients or Child Health Plus recipients. Call 607-274-6604 to schedule an appointment at our Immunization Clinics.

If you would like to learn more about health insurance options, dial 211 to speak with a Health Insurance Navigator or make an appointment online.

STAY HOME IF SICK

Staying home when you feel unwell helps prevent spread of infection to others. In the days leading up to a holiday gathering, monitor your health for symptoms. Symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other circulating illnesses like RSV and the common cold share many commonalties and are all highly contagious.

If you or others in your household are sick, it is important to remember to wash your hands well and often and avoid touching your face. Limit contact with those who are symptomatic or who have tested positive for COVID-19 and wear a high-quality mask when contact cannot be avoided.

Call your healthcare provider if you or your child are having difficulty breathing, not drinking enough fluids, or experiencing worsening symptoms. Some people, especially older adults and infants younger than 6 months of age, may need to be hospitalized and receive oxygen if they are having trouble breathing or if they become dehydrated.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth. Sign up to receive COVID-19 updates or other county announcements via email or text.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord, salvord@tompkins-co.org

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