TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department has re-issued a countywide mask advisory in the wake of newly high positive COVID-19 test numbers and rising hospitalizations.

The county issued the health advisory on Wednesday morning, citing the 14 current hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 and that there are currently several hundred active cases in the county. Hospitalizations have doubled over the last week.

“The Tompkins County Health Department is issuing a health advisory encouraging all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask while indoors and around others in public settings, in addition to continuing other precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19,” stated the health department.

The county is providing masks through a variety of means.

While the full number of active cases are not readily available anymore, with the county’s conscious shift to tracking hospitalizations and severity instead of case numbers, New York State lists the number as 396, though that does not count at-home tests. To add more information, the county’s daily updates have listed about 100 new cases per day over the last several days, between lab-verified tests and self-reported home tests (the latter is a fairly unreliable metric, so safe to say there have been more than that), though people are also continuously being released from isolation as well.

“We’re seeing a higher number of positive cases locally as well as an increase in hospitalizations,” said Frank Kruppa, the county’s public health director. “This advisory is alerting the community to our strong recommendation that you wear a mask while indoors and around others in public settings, as this will limit spread, help bring down our positive case and hospitalization numbers, and help protect vulnerable community members. We are monitoring the data on cases and hospitalizations daily, and will continue to do so in order to make the best advisements to the Tompkins County community. At this time you should wear a mask while indoors and around others.”

A note from The Ithaca Voice as well: we are working on remaking our COVID-19 Dashboard to better reflect some of the information we think could be useful during this time. Thus, we will be taking down the progress of the vaccination rate, since it has basically stagnated and that metric has obviously evolved. We will be adding a way for users to track wastewater COVID-19 testing metrics, which traces the amount of RNA from the virus is in local wastewater—Cayuga Heights has been testing since early February, but the Ithaca Wastewater Treatment Plant has just recently begun to test and will publish its data in the coming few weeks, according to Kruppa. We believe that, plus hospitalizations and a few more data graphs we can reliably source each week will be beneficial for the community. So we apologize that it has been lax lately, but check back in the next few days for a refined board that better reflects the situation in April 2022 and going forward.

Matt Butler

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