TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department has announced another death from COVID-19, which brings the local death toll to 48 since the pandemic began. Tompkins County Director of Communications Dominick Recckio said that the death was an “older adult.”

To date, the only deaths from COVID-19 that have been reported since the Omicron variant became the most prominent source of cases in Tompkins County have come among older people, including several from nursing homes. However, it is not necessarily definite that those deaths came from the Omicron variant—at last update, the sequencing of those cases had not yet been returned, meaning the exact variant of those fatal cases is not yet known.

The current circumstances naturally lead to looking for a silver lining, and there are a few locally—despite the clouds. Active cases have fallen precipitously since a post-Thanksgiving skyrocket, with recoveries outpacing new positive cases by nearly 2,000 during the last week, as the number of active cases fell from 2,630 on Dec. 22 to now 660 on Dec. 29. That number would still have been basically unthinkable just a few weeks ago, but it’s moving in the right direction—at least for now, with another post-holiday surge seemingly inevitable in the next few weeks.

Additionally, hospitalizations have still been low throughout the wave largely attributed to Omicron. That’s a phenomenon that Public Health Director Frank Kruppa attributes to two factors: a generally more mild set of symptoms that accompany the Omicron variant, as well as the impact of Tompkins County’s high vaccination rate—which is known to mitigate the severity of the illness in most situations.

Hospitalizations with COVID-19 are currently at 11 after cresting at 18 on Dec. 27. As has been mentioned here previously, that is below the previous hospitalization high, which took place in January 2021, when there were between 20-30 people hospitalized for several consecutive days.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com