TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — Individuals between the ages of 20–29 make up the highest percentage of COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County, new data from the Tompkins County Health Department shows. 

The new data follows the demographic information the county released in May, when there were 133 total cases in the county. Early reports about the virus indicated that young people were less susceptible to COVID-19, but data, both locally and nationally, has shown otherwise. In May, individuals in the 20–29 age group made up 31.5%, or 42, of COVID-19 cases in the county, and in July, individuals in this age group make up 30%, or 60, of the 202 total cases. County Administrator Jason Molino said that it is still difficult to draw conclusions from this data, given it is a relatively small size.

Since the first set of demographics was released, one more person between the ages of 0–9 tested positive, four more between the ages of 10–19, 18 more between the ages of 20–29, 13 more between the ages of 30–39, 11 more between the ages of 40–49, two more between the ages of 50–59, 13 more between the ages of 60–69 and nine more between the ages of 70–79.

“A little bit of shifting of the younger range into the older age range, but again, very small numbers, very small changes in percentage,” Frank Kruppa, public health director for the county, said. “So we’re pretty much traveling along the same path as far as distribution in our community.”

More people within this age range are expected to return to the county in the coming months, with Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College planning to resume in-person classes around the end of August. All of the higher education institutions said that they will work with Cayuga Health System to implement testing for students. 

Kruppa said that most of the testing that has occurred are for community members and individuals who have been in the community, not incoming students.

“This is not a student problem to date,” he said. “What we are dealing with is related to our community and community members. So while we’re planning for an influx of students as reopening begins to occur, right now we should take what we know about our cases that it is community behavior and not student behavior.”

There were small increases in the percentages for white and non-Hispanic race and ethnicity groups as well, the groups the majority of infected individuals are categorized in, following the initial data first presented two months ago.

The City of Ithaca has the highest number of positive cases, followed by the Town of Ithaca and the Town of Dryden. The Village of Trumansburg has the least number of positive cases, with only one. Kruppa said that this is in accordance with the population density of each of these municipalities.

The lowest number of cases occurred in the county in June, with only nine positive results. This is compared to 96 in March, 37 in April, 29 in May and 31 so far in July. From July 7 to July 20, the county has seen the largest uptick in cases since April, with the increase in cases related to travelers returning from out of the county and Fourth of July gatherings. Kruppa said that the county is not distinguishing where the travel outside of the county was to because of privacy concerns for the individuals who tested positive.

“Our cases are not necessarily related to a known positive, and that is accounted for mainly through travel,” he said. “A majority of our cases have been individuals who traveled outside of the county and tested positive upon return.”

Madison Fernandez

Madison Fernandez is a contributing reporter at the Ithaca Voice. You can reach her by email at mfernandez@ithacavoice.com.