ITHACA, N.Y.— The Kendal at Ithaca retirement community plans to re-open for visitation as early as next week after weeks of closure due to a string of positive COVID-19 tests among staff members and residents.

Kendal initially closed its campus to visitors and instituted several new guidelines on Oct. 13 in reaction to four positive cases found at the community. Since that announcement, the Kendal administration has been publishing daily updates on positive tests and steps being taken to prevent wider spread—those updates show that in total, there were eight confirmed positives among staff members and six confirmed positives among residents. Encouragingly, several of the positive cases were asymptomatic, meaning they were not experiencing some of the fierce symptoms that have been reported to accompany coronavirus.

Despite the struggles in late October, the facility is now moving towards reopening as positive tests have appeared with less frequency. The facility recently went six consecutive days without a positive test, though after that it did encounter an asymptomatic resident who tested positive and likely passed it on to someone they share a cottage with, according to Kendal. Leadership was confident that there was no spread beyond that.

Because of that, Kendal looks primed to gradually start and expand visitation over the next several days.

“Continuing to get negative reports is encouraging,” read the last update from Kendal at Ithaca Executive Director Laurie Mante. “We are moving forward to opening visitation. The target for re-starting window visits for Cascadilla House is this Thursday. If no new positives are reported, we are further planning to begin in-person visits for Taughannock House (skilled nursing and long-term care) residents next Monday.”

The daily updates have included running tallies of the number of staff test results being returned, which have grown since the campus closed its doors. Staff members are getting regularly tested, and the administration shifted to utilizing a saliva COVID-19 test to quicken the return of results.

Requests for comment sent to Kendal at Ithaca administration have not yet been returned.

Matt Butler

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