TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department has published a new set of out-of-state travel guidelines in reaction to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newly established entry testing requirements for New York State in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The health department announced Wednesday afternoon that those coming into Tompkins County from a non-contiguous state to New York must either quarantine upon arrival for 14 days or have obtained a diagnostic test for COVID-19 within three days of their departure from that state, then quarantine for three days upon getting to New York. On the fourth day of their quarantine, the visitor must receive another COVID-19 test; if both test results are negative, the person may leave quarantine. They must also fill out the traveler health form.

People who were in a non-contiguous (or non-bordering) state for less than 24 hours do not need to follow the testing protocol stated above or quarantine upon arrival, though they must fill out the traveler health form.

The policy does not apply to visitors from bordering states, which are Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont. The governor has said this is because of the amount of short commuter travel between those states and New York. People coming from those states do need to fill out the traveler health form, to assist with contact tracing in the case of an eventual positive test. Essential workers are also exempt from the policy.

“The travel-related testing and quarantine rules are in effect because the rate of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in all states and increases the likelihood of disease transmission in New York State,” the announcement clarified.

The payment policy still stands, as Tompkins County residents will still be able to receive testing free of charge, but those from out of the county will have to pay to receive a test. Tests must be made by appointment, which can be scheduled here.

According to NYS guidance, local health departments will be responsible for validating tests and ordering isolation in the event of a positive test, and the person’s home state must be notified.

“We continue to adjust and adapt as we learn more about COVID-19 and receive guidance from New York State,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “We are fortunate to have testing available in our county. However, I want to be clear that this new testing policy does not apply to those in mandatory quarantine due to close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.”

Kruppa continued, “these individuals must follow instructions from the Health Department and are monitored for the full 14 days. We all need to continue taking the same precautions: wear masks, wash hands, and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. With the holidays coming up, I also remind everyone to avoid non-essential travel. The best gift to your family this holiday season is to avoid spreading COVID-19, so please consider staying home.”

Matt Butler

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