TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department announced Monday that New York State’s Virtual Call Center will be ending its services at the end of the month.

“The NYS VCC has been the primary method of follow-up phone calls and text messages for positive cases since the ending of local contact tracing efforts at the state of the year,” read the announcement from the VCC.

The health department stated they will continue to monitor positive cases and “conduct follow-up communication for at-risk populations and congregate care settings, in addition to continued close communication with local school districts and college settings.” It continues that staff will work to identify any “emerging trends or clusters from new positive cases” and provide intervention as necessary from there.

Outright, the health department states that the public should not anticipate contact tracing even if they test positive and report it to the health department or state.

“This third year of the COVID-19 pandemic’s theme has largely been self-management,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “We ask the community to continue their efforts by staying up to date on their vaccinations, by wearing masks when in public, by seeking testing and staying home if sick, and monitoring for symptoms. Continuing to follow these steps will help reduce the spread of the virus and keep our more vulnerable community members safe.”

The health department laid out the following steps in case of a positive PCR test:

  • You should immediately isolate for 5 days from the positive test result or the onset of symptoms, whichever occurs first. Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for an additional 5 days following the end of the isolation period.
  • Anyone in your household (who you live with) is at increased risk of infection. Everyone in the household should monitor themselves closely for symptoms, especially if they are unvaccinated, immuno-compromised, or have other underlying health conditions. They may contact their healthcare practitioner about any concerns and additional treatment.
  • Please inform close contacts that they may have been exposed. A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the infectious period. Close contacts should monitor themselves closely for symptoms and seek a PCR test if symptoms develop.
  • If you test positive using a Self-Test Kit, please complete the Self-Test Reporting Form for Tompkins County residents. The online form will ask for basic contact information and to upload a photo of your test kit result. Once the form is submitted, you will receive an automated email message with additional guidance and documentation that you have submitted a positive self-test result to the Tompkins County Health Department.
  • Continue to monitor your symptoms and communicate with your primary care provider if you have questions or concerns. Staying hydrated, resting and taking medication to reduce fever (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) can help relieve symptoms.
  • Those who test positive and are an older adult or at high risk of severe illness may be eligible for treatment options that can be prescribed by a doctor.
  • Anyone who does not currently have a primary care physician or who is uninsured and seeking a local provider should call 2-1-1 (1-877-211-8667).
  • If you are experiencing any of the emergency warning signs of trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, bluish lips or face, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Matt Butler

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