ITHACA, N.Y. –– The Tompkins County Health Department released age, race and location data information on all positive COVID-19 cases Tuesday night.

Officials had previously declined to release such information in an effort to protect patient privacy.

“We are at a point with our 133 total cases we feel like we’re able to provide a composite of demographic information,” Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said.

As part of contact investigations with positive patients, the county has tracked age, race and source of exposure –– as well as broken down the total number of cases in the county by municipality.

The majority of positive cases have occurred amongst young people –– a conclusion that goes against early speculation that the elderly may be more susceptible to contraction. Senior citizens may face elevated risks for severe adverse health effects associated with COVID-19, more-so than their young, healthy counterparts.

Kruppa added that the data set justified the county’s continued emphasis on the need for everyone, regardless of age, to practice good social distancing and safety precautions.

“We were on target with the idea that our entire community needed to take steps to protect themselves,” Kruppa said. “We know young people can get the disease and serve as transmission vectors.”

Community spread –– spread amongst those without exposure to a known positive –– is a large chunk of the positive COVID-19 cases locally. Kruppa said that as time progresses, community spread has and will continue to increase.

The breakdown across the county aligns with population density –– the Town and City of Ithaca have the largest number of positive COVID-19 cases — more dense municipalities have more positive cases, while more rural areas have had fewer positives. The Village of Dryden is the only municipality in the county yet to see a positive case.

The disease appears to be evenly distributed across self-reported racial groups as well, meaning that the virus is not disproportionately impacting one race more than another locally, as early indicators had pointed to in other regions of the state and country.

Kruppa said that the demographic information will not be updated continuously, but rather sporadically as more large data sets can be gathered in order to continue protecting the identities of people who test positive.  He stressed that 133 positive cases were a limited data set and that it was not advisable to try and draw specific conclusions about the disease based on such a small data set.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com