TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) announced Oct. 14 that the community transmission level has been increased from low to medium after an uptick in cases and higher hospitalization numbers.

TCHD is advising residents use precautionary steps like wearing a mask indoors and getting booster vaccines when eligible, though there is no change in official guidance as of now.

The bivalent (or updated) boosters add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine composition to help restore protection that had decreased since previous vaccinations targeted other variants.

Boosters are available at pharmacies and through healthcare providers and can be searched at vaccines.gov.

The TCHD is continually monitoring and publishing data trends to provide updates to the community, and Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said that “We had anticipated that we could see a spike in new cases this fall, as experienced in both 2020 and 2021. The community should keep in mind that both COVID-19 and the flu are circulating at this time of the year. We can improve our personal safety by staying up to date on vaccinations, wearing high-quality masks, and staying home when ill. If you are not yet vaccinated or have not received your booster, please contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to get vaccinated as soon as you can.”

Testing is recommended if you are feeling ill or are symptomatic for COVID, or if you’ve had a known exposure. Tests are free through Tompkins County at the testing site at the Shops at Ithaca Mall (40 Catherwood Road), and can be scheduled here.

Free self-test kits can be found at community locations here.

As of Oct. 14, the TCHD reported 9 active COVID-19 hospitalizations and 21 new positive cases, and one new death of a Tompkins County resident, bringing the county’s total to 69.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...