January 27, 2021
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Two Ithaca nursing home residents die from COVID-19

Update 8:48 a.m.– The Tompkins County Health Department reported a third COVID-19–related death of an Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home resident Nov. 29. As of Nov. 29, there are 179 active COVID-19 cases in the county and four deaths of county residents.

Two residents of Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home in Ithaca have died from COVID-19, and 39 residents and 13 staff members at the nursing home have tested positive.

The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) announced the deaths in a press release Nov. 28. The TCHD reported a total of 174 new COVID-19 cases in the county during the seven-day period Nov. 22–Nov. 28. This is the largest increase since the TCHD began reporting cases March 14. As of Nov. 28, there are 188 active COVID-19 cases in the county, the highest number of active cases in the county since the beginning of the pandemic. These cases at Oak Hill Manor are part of the largest reported cluster of COVID-19 cases the county has had since the beginning of the pandemic, according to The Ithaca Voice.

The administration at Oak Hill Manor is working with the New York State Department of Health to complete contact tracing and isolate the positive cases, according to the press release. These are the second and third COVID-19–related deaths of Tompkins County residents. The TCHD reported the first resident death in the county Oct. 12. Two nonresident deaths occurred in the county April 10 and April 11.

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Nov. 25 press conference that he anticipates an increase in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving, which was Nov. 26, because he expected people to travel and gather in larger groups for the holiday, despite guidance against doing so.

“Thanksgiving will be an added accelerant because people travel and there’s more social activity,” Cuomo said. “The more social activity, the more the infection rate goes up. We are going to see an increase post-Thanksgiving.”

New travel and social gathering restrictions were implemented in the state Nov. 13. People traveling to New York state from any state with a positive test rate higher than 10% or 10 per 100,000 people over a seven-day rolling average are required to quarantine for 14 days. Social gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people at private residences.

Positive cases at Ithaca College have also increased during this seven-day period. As of Nov. 28, there have been 17 positive cases among the college community members between Nov. 21 and Nov. 25. The dashboard has not been updated since Nov. 25 because of Thanksgiving break and will be updated again Nov. 30. Cornell University saw an increase of nine positive cases during this time period.

TCHD opened a new COVID-19 testing site Nov. 27 at 412 N. Tioga St. for saliva testing. There is also a sampling site at The Shops at Ithaca Mall. Ithaca College students, faculty and staff can get tested on campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break from noon to 1 p.m., every Tuesday in December at the Athletics and Events Center. Community members who have symptoms of COVID-19 cannot get tested on campus and must go to The Shops at Ithaca Mall testing site.

Alyshia Korba can be reached at akorba@ithaca.edu