The Tompkins County Health Department reported 15 new positive COVID-19 cases today, bringing the total number of new positive cases over the past seven days to 59. This rise in cases is primarily attributed to several clusters related to large indoor gatherings and domestic travel. Out of an abundance of caution, TCHD is issuing a Health Advisory encouraging all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask while indoors around others.
Following the increased transmission across the U.S. of the more contagious Delta variant, this week the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance stating that fully vaccinated individuals in communities with spread above 50 cases per 100,000 residents should consider wearing a mask while indoors. Tompkins County is currently at 59 cases per 100,000 over the last seven days. New York State has announced that they are reviewing the CDC guidance and will issue guidance following that review. Tompkins County has historically mirrored New York State Department of Health guidance and at this time is not issuing any additional guidance beyond this health advisory.
Following this advisory, Tompkins County is asking all County employees to wear a mask while indoors regardless of vaccination status (though it is not required at this time), and is encouraging other local organizations to do the same for their employees & patrons. Printable signage from TCHD related to mask-wearing and other resources can be found here.
Local cases continue to be from both the unvaccinated and vaccinated populations. A breakdown of positive cases by vaccination status will be available in the coming week following analysis by TCHD. Vaccinated individuals, both locally and nationally, continue to have very high levels of protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Tompkins County Medical Director Dr. William Klepack stated, “As we await more information and guidance, one of the best things we can all do is proceed with caution. We know that the vaccines are proving effective in keeping people from getting severely ill or hospitalized, and that masks work very well to prevent the spread of the disease.”
Dr. Klepack continued, “Fully vaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a mask as an extra layer of protection for the community, and unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a mask when indoors and around others to stop the spread. Those who have not yet been vaccinated should strongly consider getting vaccinated as soon as they are able. By wearing a mask at work and around friends and family, you help prevent the most vulnerable of them from becoming infected and you help stop the pandemic.” For information of where to go to get vaccinated, please visit the TCHD website or call 2-1-1 for assistance.
Interim Tompkins County Administrator Lisa Holmes stated, “Based on the information that we have at this time, and the science we have available, asking people to wear a mask is the best guidance for our community. We’re continuing to encourage our employees to get vaccinated, and asking everyone to wear a mask following this advisory out of an abundance of caution.” Holmes continued, “Taking these steps helps us keep one another healthy and safe. As we have more information and guidance we will share it with the community. Thank you to everyone for doing their part as we continue to increase our vaccination rate and stop the spread of COVID-19.”
TCHD recently published a frequently asked questions web page on the Delta variant. Based on sequencing data of positive cases through July 15, there were no new positive cases of the Delta variant in Tompkins County, though other common variants were present. The Health Department previously reported two cases of the Delta variant. Sequencing is done as part of a research project at Cornell University and is available as researchers are able to process it. As TCHD receives additional information on the prevalence of Delta variant cases, details will be shared with the community. Note that individual sequencing results from this research study are not available as the sequencing is done in a research laboratory rather than a clinical one. The treatment for a positive case remains the same regardless of sequencing determination.