TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.— With Tompkins County’s active COVID-19 case count starting to dissipate again after an early September jump, the county administration has released its third batch of demographic information on the hundreds of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. As of Tuesday, there have been 383 positive tests in Tompkins County since the pandemic began, with 39 active cases remaining.

The largest change in data appears to be in the age range of the positive tests, almost assuredly a result of the return of college students. Of the 378 total positive tests shown in the data (five are missing as they came in too late on Tuesday), 61 percent are among people from the ages of 10-29 years old (25 percent aged between 10-19, 36 percent aged between 20-29). Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said that when the county last updated the demographic data publicly, when there had been 202 positive cases found in Tompkins County, that age range made up just 36 percent of cases. Both are over-represented compared to how much of the total population they make up. The incidence rate among other age ranges is very close to their share of the overall population, except those aged 0-9 years old, as there have only been five COVID-19 cases found in children in the county.

There have still been no deaths of Tompkins County residents.

More information was released regarding the two clusters, one among Cornell University athletes and one among a separate group of students from Cornell and Tompkins Cortland Community College. As of Sept. 13, the initial cluster was found to have 129 total people involved, with 48 actual positive cases and 81 close contacts of those people placed in quarantine. The second cluster involved 52 total people, with 14 people testing positive and 38 close contacts of those people placed in quarantine.

“Most of the positives that have resulted since we last talked about it were individuals who were already in quarantine,” Kruppa said, referring to the first cluster, highlighting the county’s containment strategy.

The incidence rate across races appears fairly consistent with population data. Tompkins County is made up of 79.3 percent white people, and white people make up 76 percent of the COVID-19 positive cases locally. Additionally, Black people have made up 6 percent of cases, compared to 4.6 percent of the total population; Asian people make up 10.2 percent of the population and 7 percent of the COVID-19 cases.

Predictably, many of the cases have been found in Ithaca, with 202 of the total 378 positive cases. Following the city is the Town of Ithaca with 58, the Town of Dryden with 32, the Village of Lansing with 16 and the Village of Cayuga Heights with 13. All other municipalities have seen less than 10 COVID-19.

Kruppa updated the legislature on the success of the contact tracing process, showing how often the county health department is able to determine exposure points for positive cases. Kruppa said that due to the aforementioned clusters, it has been easier to track may of the new cases: In the month of September alone, the health department was able to identify the exposure point in 58 of the positive cases, while the department was unable to find a specific exposure point in 27 cases. Overall, the department has been able to find an exposure point in far more positive cases than not. Additionally, data shows that most of the positive tests since March are not related to travel from somewhere with a higher case rate than Tompkins County—even in August and September, with students returning.

According to the county’s presentation, the county has spent $432,734 in COVID-19 related expenses.

See the full presentation here:

9.15 Legislature Meeting COVID-19 Update

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com