TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department has announced a second death at a Racker residential facility from COVID-19, the second in the past week. Tompkins County’s coronavirus death toll is now 17 people.

There were scant further details provided by the health department about the death, although it comes in another day of high positive coronavirus tests among the community, with 54 reported on Jan. 6 (though those numbers weren’t released until the morning of Jan. 7).

“We are saddened by another death at a Racker residential home,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “We extend our sympathy to the family of the individual and the Racker community.”

Racker’s Executive Director Dan Brown and Associate Executive Director Cris Donovan published a statement on the facility’s website on Jan. 6, calling the resident who died “a wonderful woman that brought joy to her family, friends and all the staff members that worked in the home.” She was one of the two people who were “critically ill” when Racker issued its initial statement about the first death—the second remains hospitalized with COVID-19.

The cases are related to a cluster outbreak that Racker said they reported to the Tompkins County Health Department on Dec. 7, 2020. It is unclear how large that cluster was when it was reported or how many active cases remain.

There appear to be several outbreaks ongoing at area nursing facilities. Oak Hill and Racker have now seen multiple deaths, 12 of which have passed away at Oak Hill. Beechtree also is facing dozens of cases, as is Bridges Cornell Heights, albeit to a much smaller extent.

Matt Butler

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