January 29, 2023
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Health department announces six more COVID-19 deaths

The Tompkins County Health Department announced that six more residents of the Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home have died from COVID-19. 

In a Dec. 21 statement, the department said the six deaths occurred between Dec. 12 and 21. One resident died in December and three died in November as a result of a cluster of at least 52 COVID-19 cases. As of Nov. 28, 39 residents and 13 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. There are 10 total deaths from COVID-19 from the Oak Hill cluster. There are now 14 COVID-19 related deaths in Tompkins County, including 12 residents and two nonresidents. 

The statement said that Oak Hill administrators are working with the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to conduct contact tracing and isolate positive cases. The department is holding regular communication with nursing homes in the area, but the DOH is in charge of monitoring positive cases in nursing homes and care facilities, the statement said. 

“Every death from COVID-19 in our community is heartbreaking, and our thoughts are with the families of those we lost and with those battling the disease,” Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County public health director, said in the statement. “We continue to see those at highest risk having the most adverse health outcomes from COVID-19. We’re looking forward to having our seniors vaccinated in the coming months, but while we await the vaccines, we can’t stop doing what we know works — wearing masks, keeping distance from one another, and being patient before we visit with loved ones.” 

In the statement, Kruppa also discouraged nonessential gathering and travel in light of the upcoming holidays. The New York state government has limited small gatherings to less than 10 people.

“We know that not gathering with family and friends over the holidays is difficult, but we all need to be patient and look forward to celebrating when there’s widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. “This year, we can all give the gift of keeping our loved ones healthy and safe.”  

The department also announced that a patron of the Triphammer Laundromat, who was at the laundromat from 11 a.m. to noon Dec. 16, tested positive for COVID-19. The department is advising anyone who was at the location during this time to get tested for COVID-19 and monitor their health for COVID-19 symptoms. People can get tested 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday through Friday at The Shops at Ithaca Mall sampling site or 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 412 N. Tioga St. Appointments for tests are required for both sites. 

There are currently 221 active COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County, with 1,767 total positive cases since March. Ithaca College has 14 active cases, with a total of 138 positives since Aug 14. Students, faculty and staff can get tested from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break from noon to 1 p.m., every Tuesday in December, except Dec. 29, at the Athletics and Events Center. 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.

Alexis Manore can be reached at amanore@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @AlexisManore