Tompkins County officials held their weekly Zoom update on the status of the coronavirus situation in the area.
There wasn't too much news in the meeting, which county officials began holding each week in May in order to keep the public abreast of the re-opening phases. The Southern Tier region is currently in Phase Two of the re-opening, which began last Friday, and County Health Director Frank Kruppa said that the re-opening advancement has not appeared to worsen the coronavirus outbreak so far.
"We have certainly seen more asymptomatic people testing positive," Kruppa said. "The disease is still in our community, though at very low levels."
The governor has now approved anyone who has participated in a protest and any workers going back to work during Phase 2 will be allowed to return to work, which will almost certainly contribute to a continuation of climbing test rates locally.
Asked about the possibility of Phase Three beginning on Friday, June 12, Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino was hesitant to say anything definitively, citing the confusion that accompanied the beginning of Phase Two last week.
"I think Phase Two has gone well for our community, as well as the region," Molino said. "I don't think we can assume it will be 14 days, but there will be another review of these things in the next seven days. [...] There is no set time frame, we just have to stay vigilant."
When asked about the spate of recent protests, Kruppa acknowledged that those included violations of social distancing but also said that he understood why and that as protests continue as long as people feel passionately enough about the issue to gather, he hopes they do so while using other public health precautions like wearing masks and washing their hands.
"Sometimes there are things that are bigger than that," Kruppa said. "We still need people to take the precautions [...] I think it's appropriate, it's what people are feeling and we support that."
Tompkins County Legislature Chair Leslyn McBean-Clairborne also began the press briefing with an extended tribute to George Floyd and the week of protesting that has followed his killing.