ITHACA, N.Y.—Starting Friday, Nov. 27, there will be a new option for those seeking a COVID-19 test as Cayuga Health System will launch its first downtown location, in addition to the mobile sampling center at the Shops at Ithaca Mall near Lansing. Those interested, transportation to the existing sampling site at the Shops at Ithaca Mall, can already schedule a test at the site at the Cayuga Health website. Appointments are required before a sample is accepted at the building.

The new sampling center will be located at 412 North Tioga Street in Ithaca, which is property owned by Tompkins County. The location used to be a dentist office. It will use a significantly different collection method compared to the mobile site, as patients will self-administer a saliva collection then deliver it to the site. The new sampling center will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

The site will be operated by Cayuga Health Systems, just as the one located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall is, where thousands of area residents have received tests over the last several months. The new walk-up site is aimed at the local population that may not be as capable of accessing the mobile location, which has been hosted outside the mall since the early days of the pandemic.

“This testing site is intended to serve individuals who do not have transportation access to the Cayuga Health Sampling Site at The Shops at Ithaca Mall, and will be a walk-up site,” said an email from Tompkins County officials to local neighbors of the site. “There will be limited appointments available each day, which can be made through the CHS website or call center (607-319-5708). Appointments are required to reduce density in the building. Those seeking a test will enter and exit the building in small numbers based on their scheduled appointment time. This sampling site will use saliva-based collection, and those seeking a test will self-collect their samples on-site, in their car, or at their home before dropping the sample off at the collection site. The parking lot between Sears and Tioga Streets will be used for Cayuga Health staff and some individuals seeking a test.”

More information will be available on Friday as the site launches operations. Information from the FDA and CDC on saliva collection accuracy and method can be found here (FDA) and here (CDC). It is unclear what the payment policy will be at the new site—previously, it has been established that Tompkins County residents may seek testing at the Ithaca site for free, while out-of-county residents must pay $99.

Appointments can be made through the CHS site here.

Matt Butler

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