February 6, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 30°F


Three fully vaccinated Tompkins County residents die of COVID-19

Three fully vaccinated Tompkins County residents have died of COVID-19.

The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) announced Sept. 13 that the first resident was 93 years old and died at Cayuga Medical Center on Sept. 11. Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County public health director, said in the announcement that the resident also had pre-existing health conditions that contributed to their death. The TCHD then reported two more COVID-19 related deaths of Tompkins County residents Sept. 15. Both residents were elders and were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Kruppa said in a statement Sept. 15 that the TCHD is sharing information on the deaths to inform members of the community who are most likely to be negatively impacted by COVID-19. 

Kruppa said that much of the continued spread is because of the delta variant and the community members gathering.

“We know that the delta variant continues to spread even among those who are fully vaccinated,” Kruppa said in the Spet. 15 statement. “Despite this, the vaccine is protecting a vast majority of people against severe illness.”

The statement also said that a majority of deaths and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are in older unvaccinated adults.

Tompkins County reported 44 new positive cases Sept. 15 and a total of 218 active cases. There are currently nine hospitalizations and 37 total resident deaths. The county recently saw a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases because of the delta variant and the arrival of college students for the fall semester. The county hit a peak of 488 active cases — the most since the pandemic began in March 2020 — Sept. 5 and recorded the most positives in one day Aug. 31 with 130 cases.

Ithaca College currently has 17 total active student cases with 12 being residential students and five being off-campus students. There are three staff cases and one faculty case. The college also reimplemented random surveillance testing for vaccinated students which began Sept. 13. Cornell University also experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases and moved its alert level to yellow, meaning infection rates are increasing, Aug. 27. Cornell reported two new positive cases Sept. 12 and a total of 68 cases for the seven day period between Sept. 6 and 12.

Kruppa said the county will continue to monitor the severity of COVID-19 in the county.

Dominick Recckio, communications director for Tompkins County, said vaccines continue to be effective in preventing severe disease among individuals infected with COVID-19. He also said vaccines have helped to keep hospital rates low.

“We have high vaccination rates here in Tompkins County, and thank all of our community members, including student populations, for getting vaccinated,” he said via email.

Samm Swarts, assistant director for emergency preparedness and response in the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said via email that he feels fortunate that there are no severe cases of COVID-19 and no hospitalizations among the campus community. He said he believes this is due to the high vaccination rate at the college.

“Vaccination continues to be the strongest recommendation against our fight against COVID-19,” he said via email. “We strongly encourage any members of the IC community who are not vaccinated to seek vaccination at the earliest convenience to keep our campus healthy and safe.”

Currently, 99% of the student population is vaccinated against COVID-19 and 78% of faculty and staff as of Aug. 24. Faculty and staff are not required to be vaccinated.