THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING of our community is our top priority. Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) is working closely with community partners to prevent and respond to the evolving novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
New York State ended its requirement for universal masking in P-12 schools and childcare facilities on March 2, 2022, citing a decrease in positive cases and hospitalizations, an increase in vaccination rates, and a low rate of pediatric hospitalizations across the State. Decisions on masking that are more protective than state requirements may be made by local health departments as guided by local conditions. Attention should be given to equity in the adoption of more protective measures, particularly testing.
NYSDOH recommends students, staff and teachers wear masks when:
- They feel more comfortable wearing a mask for personal reasons.
- They were in the same room within the school as someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer and were thus exposed or potentially exposed.
- They are known to have been exposed to COVID-19 in any setting within the previous 10 days.
- They are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised and have discussed the need to mask with their healthcare provider(s).
- Masks should be well-fitted and appropriately worn (to cover nose and mouth) and should conform to guidelines for masks and respirators.
- Masking is no longer required on school buses or vans. Individuals who are required to wear masks in school should wear masks on school transport.
- Masking is required upon return from isolation during days 6 through 10 after COVID-19 infection.
- School monitoring of masking compliance should focus on ensuring anyone returning from a new COVID-19 infection is appropriately wearing a well-fitting mask on days 6-10.
- Schools are required to create a “mask positive” environment that supports those who choose to continue wearing masks.
- New masking guidance supplement to the “Interim NYSDOH Guidance for Classroom Instruction in P-12 Schools During the 2021-2022 Academic Year” (NYSDOH 3/1/22)
- FAQ: School Masking and Testing Guidance (NYSDOH 3/1/22)
Testing for coronavirus remains an important strategy for identifying positive cases quickly so they can isolate and further prevent the spread of COVID-19. Testing in schools, self-tests, and the mall sampling site continue to be available options in our community.
Whenever someone in school – student, staff or teacher – is determined to have been exposed or potentially exposed, the individual should be tested for COVID-19.
- Testing should be done 3-5 days after the last date of exposure or potential exposure, regardless of vaccination status.
- If the test is positive, isolate (stay home).
- If symptoms develop, stay home and test as soon as possible.
The Tompkins County mask advisory is suspended effective Monday, February, 28, 2022. This was done in response to a new CDC framework for classifying the presence of COVID-19 in communities that shows Tompkins County in the low risk category. The new Community Level framework focuses on health care capacity as measured by new hospitalizations and available beds over a 7-day period, as well as disease prevalence.
The advisory had recommended that in Tompkins County all individuals wear a mask when in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status. The NYS statewide indoor business mask-or-vaccine requirement has also been lifted, with certain exceptions (see below).
Masks continue to be a highly effective tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and people may choose to wear a mask based on individual preference informed by level of personal risk, regardless of the identified level of community risk.
- 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, and the Tompkins County Health Department.
- 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.
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. Guidance also recommends that masks be worn by immunocompromised individuals and seniors who are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus.
Self-tests are one of the many prevention tools we can use to stop of the spread of COVID-19, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing. They can give you information about the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Self-tests are available for free from the County (click for distribution points) and can be purchased online or in pharmacies and retail stores, and may be available through schools and other organizations at no cost. Get more information here.
A NYS law grants time off for public and private employees to receive any dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses. Under the law, employees will be granted up to four hours of excused leave per injection that will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued. This legislation was passed and signed in March 2021.
- Click here for an FAQ from the NYS Department of Labor.
- Click here for a sign about the benefit
- Click here for the full text of the Labor Law provision (Chapter 77 of the Laws of 2021).
Documentation of isolation and quarantine orders for third parties, including work or school
Case investigations have ceased for most positive cases age 18-64 years old, and individuals do not get a phone call and isolation order from a case investigator. Instead, follow-up for a positive lab-certified PCR test is by email or SMS text message. The documents listed below are valid proof to present to your employer or school that you or your dependent have been ordered into isolation (you tested positive) or quarantine (you are a close contact of someone who tested positive).
- To report positive self-tests to Tompkins County
- Complete and submit this form to report your positive self-test result to the Tompkins County Health Department.
- Once the form is submitted, you will receive an automated email message with additional guidance and documentation that you have submitted a positive self-test result to the Tompkins County Health Department. Your end date for isolation is five days after you took the test or from the onset of your symptoms, whichever occurred first. You will not receive further follow-up from TCHD.
- If you develop symptoms or symptoms worsen, contact your healthcare practitioner and seek additional care.
- NYSDOH documentation following a positive lab-certified test or close contact
County Health Advisory
Note: This advisory was suspended on February 28, 2022.
The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) issued a health advisory on July 30, 2021. The advisory addresses mask-wearing for all residents, regardless of vaccination status. The advisory was posted again on August 20, 2021. Additional guidance was posted on September 1, 2021.
- This advisory includes no mandates or requirements beyond the current state mandate that unvaccinated individuals wear a mask while indoors and around others.
- This advisory is not meant to directly alter any business operations or supersede previous New York State guidance, such as patrons removing masks while seated at a restaurant or when workers are in their own offices or distanced from other individuals.
- TCHD issued the July 30 advisory when the number of local new positive cases reached the CDC’s threshold of “substantial spread” (total 50 cases/100,000 residents in 7 days). The advisory was posted August 20 when the community transmission rate crossed 100, moving it to the "high spread" level. In absence of further New York State guidance, and with the increase in local cases, TCHD decided to encourage mask-wearing by members of the public.
- Tompkins County is not enforcing the guidance in this advisory. It is incumbent on each resident, business, and organization to take actions that they feel appropriate based on the information provided.
The following may be best practices for businesses related to this advisory and the current state of the pandemic. Please note that at this time these are not requirements or mandates:
- MASKS: Encourage or require mask-wearing by employees and patrons regardless of vaccination status.
- Mask Requirement Signs for businesses and public venues. (Letter size PDF; free download.)
- Mask Requirement Signs for businesses and public venues. (Letter size PDF; free download.)
- VACCINE: Encourage or require your employees and/or patrons to get vaccinated. Vaccines continue to provide the most effective protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
- TESTING: Employees should get tested for COVID-19 if they have oncoming symptoms or have been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Questions or concerns, contact: email@example.com or (607) 274-6688.
- New York State Archived Industry Guidelines.
- Cornell University COVID-19 Response site.
- Ithaca College COVID Health & Safety.
- TC3 COVID-19 Policies and Updates.
- SUNY COVID Case Tracker.
- Tompkins County Department of Human Resources.