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COVID-19 Update: Tompkins County Mask Advisory Suspended 2/28, NYS School Mask Mandate Ends 3/2

(Ithaca, N.Y., February 28, 2022) -- The Tompkins County Health Department is suspending the local mask advisory as the spread of COVID-19 and active COVID-19 hospital admissions have slowed. The advisory previously recommended that in Tompkins County all individuals wear a mask when in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status. According to the metrics recently released by the CDC regarding “community levels,” Tompkins County has fallen into the “Low” category based on the following data: fewer than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, less than ten new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 people at Cayuga Medical Center, and lower than 10 percent of staffed inpatient beds at the hospital occupied by COVID-19 patients.

In New York State, masks are still required in the following settings:

  • All health care settings regulated by the Department of Health and other related state agencies will continue to require masks. This includes Cayuga Medical Center and Cayuga Medical Associates practices.
  • Nursing homes
  • Adult care facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Detention centers
  • Homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters
  • Public transit and transportation hubs, as well as trains, planes and airports in accordance with federal regulations.

New York State is ending its mask mandate in schools and childcare facilities on March 2 citing a decrease in positive cases and hospitalizations, an increase in vaccination rates, and a low rate of pediatric hospitalizations across the State. Self-tests have been distributed to families for students to use before return from winter break. TCHD expects that the State Department of Health will release further recommendations for schools this week.

At any level of COVID-19 spread, people can choose to wear a mask based on personal preference informed by personal level of risk. Masks continue to be a highly effective tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Masks are recommended to be worn if you are around people who are ill, who may not be vaccinated against COVID-19, or with those who are at higher risk of severe illness. TCHD also recommends masks be worn by immunocompromised individuals and seniors who are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “We’re in a place where we are seeing very little spread and severe disease locally and around the state. While we are suspending our mask advisory and no longer requiring that masks be worn in schools, you may still choose to wear a mask to protect yourself or others – masks are one of the best tools to stop the disease from spreading.”

Kruppa continued, “Our local schools have been great partners throughout this pandemic, working diligently to stop the spread and keeping our students healthy and safe. While we’re moving forward with new guidance it’s important to continue to stay vigilant and we are encouraging everyone who is eligible to stay up-to-date on vaccination.”

Tompkins County is making high-quality KN95 masks freely available to the community. Please refer to the TCHD website or call 2-1-1 for information on where these masks are available.

Everyone eligible is encouraged to stay up to date on vaccinations and get tested if sick. For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations, refer to the TCHD website.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at www2.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: Samantha Hillson, 607-274-6714 or shillson@tompkins-co.org

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