TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department has released long-awaited breakdown of the recent wave of positive COVID-19 cases, differentiated by vaccination status.

The numbers, seen in the featured image above and also available in a more dynamic format at the TCHD website, clearly show that infection is still quite possible among vaccinated people—though at this time, it is not very high. The health department stated that “the total number of positive cases in the vaccinated population represents 0.2 percent of the total vaccinated population in Tompkins County.”

Still, from May 1 until July 30, 2021, of the 315 positive tests during that time, 84 of them were fully vaccinated—representing 27 percent of the total caseload. These cases are referred to as “breakthrough infections.” There’s also, from the data, a clear uptick in the percentage of breakthrough infections versus infections in unvaccinated people.

Over the last two weeks, 58 vaccinated people have tested positive for the virus, versus 27 people who are not fully vaccinated. Four more positive tests were from people who are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine (in TCHD’s definition this means they are under 12 years old), and two people with unknown information tested positive.

This is, partially, obvious: as the number of vaccinated people grows, the continued spread of COVID-19 means each new positive test is more and more likely to be a vaccinated person, especially now that nearly 70 percent of the total county population is vaccinated. Since the vaccine is meant to mitigate symptoms, as opposed to wholly preventing or eliminating spread of COVID-19, this seems to further confirm the conventional vaccination knowledge.

“Vaccinated individuals, both locally and nationally, continue to have very high levels of protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death from the virus,” the release from TCHD states. “For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and where to get vaccinated locally, see the Health Department website. The newly published data show a recent increase in the number of fully vaccinated individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and mirrors national and statewide trends.”

Tompkins County Director of Communications Dominick Recckio told the Ithaca Voice that there have been no deaths of vaccinated individuals from COVID-19, and there have been no COVID-19 hospitalizations at Cayuga Medical Center of vaccinated people. Nationwide, the CDC states that of the 163 million people who have been vaccinated, just 6,587 of them have been hospitalized or died from a breakthrough case of COVID-19—a rate of 0.004 percent.

While it seems likely that the Delta variant is leading the spike in all new positive cases locally, the health department has yet to release that information, though they said earlier this week that it would be available soon.

From the health department:

A chart including data by week from May – July 2021 is posted on the TCHD website and included below, and will be updated periodically on the TCHD website as more data becomes available. This data is self-reported to TCHD during case investigations with ongoing verification through the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS). Positive cases reflected in this chart are listed by date of COVID-19 test collection. Vaccination status is identified as “unknown” when information cannot be confirmed. Ineligible status is based on age, only individuals age 12 and over are eligible for vaccination.

Those interested can watch the update from the Tompkins County Health Department and Cayuga Medical Center officials at 4:30 p.m. on August 5, and can be viewed afterwards at the same link.

Matt Butler

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