The Tompkins County Health Department has reported five more resident deaths related to COVID-19 since Dec. 23, bringing the total to 17 resident deaths in the county.
The department announced a death at Oak Hill Nursing Home on Dec. 23, making a total of 11 deaths at the facility. In December, the department announced six COVID-19–related deaths at the nursing home, in addition to the four deaths resulting from an outbreak at the facility in November. There have also been over 60 cases but no reported deaths at the Beechtree Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, as reported by the Ithaca Voice.
Two deaths have been reported at a Racker resident house. Racker is an organization that supports individuals with disabilities. The first death was announced Dec. 30 and the second death was announced Jan. 7.
Following the holidays, the county saw an increase of 54 cases Jan. 6 and 50 cases Jan. 5, bringing the total number of active cases to 318 as of Jan. 6. Prior to these two days, the last time the county had an increase of 50 or more cases was Dec. 19.
COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to be distributed in New York in five phases. Tompkins County is currently distributing Phase 1A vaccines, as of the week of Jan. 4. Nursing home and long-term group living facility residents and staff are eligible to be vaccinated in this phase. Other groups that are currently eligible to receive the vaccine include high-risk health workers, public health workers who come into direct contact with patients and emergency medical service (EMS) workers, among others.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized two vaccines for emergency use, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and both vaccines require two doses. Vaccination clinics will be held 6:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Jan. 6–8 at the Shops at Ithaca Mall. People who are eligible to receive the vaccine can register online for an appointment.
Ithaca College has 16 active cases as of Jan. 6 and 161 total cases since Aug. 14. Rather than the previous nasopharyngeal swab method of testing conducted by staff members from the Cayuga Medical Center over the fall semester, members of the campus community will now be required to take part in a saliva self-collection process. Samples must be returned to an on-campus collection bin Monday through Friday by 11:30 a.m., when another saliva self-collection kit can be retrieved. Symptomatic members of the campus community are not allowed on campus and can get tested at The Shops at Ithaca Mall or the downtown sampling site.