TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The number of active COVID-19 cases has risen to above 200 for the first time since Sept. 26, according to the daily data revealed by the Tompkins County Health Department.

That comes during a week that saw daily positive test numbers of 63, 71, 34 and 31, though they were tempered by relatively high recovery numbers as well. It coincides with a similar uptick in cases across New York State.

The number is undoubtedly concerning, but if there is any silver lining to what seems like another burgeoning round of COVID-19 misery, hospitalizations have still remained down. The number of people who are hospitalized that have tested positive for COVID-19 now sits at four, despite 222 positive tests in the county over the last week.

These are the numbers the health department wants the public to focus on, according to Public Health Director Frank Kruppa, and where they are drawing optimism from. While active case numbers have recently careened up and down, hospitalizations have remained in single digits for much of the last several months, with a few exceptions in August and September.

“We know case numbers are going to fluctuate, and we’re in a bit of an uptick now, we’ve seen our cases go up,” Kruppa said during Tuesday’s Tompkins County Legislature meeting. “We’re close to 200 active cases at this point, and we don’t want to see that, but our focus is on our hospitalizations.”

The still-high vaccination rate in Tompkins County is the reason for the low hospitalizations, Kruppa said. The rate currently sits at 76.6 percent of the total population that has received at least its first dose. Kruppa reiterated what has been the health department’s new messaging for a few weeks now: at this point, everyone should anticipate contracting COVID-19 at some point, making the vaccine all that more important to receive.

“If you’re under 70 years of age, vaccination is a big factor in limiting hospitalizations,” Kruppa said. “Our focus still has to be getting as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Matt Butler

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