Two more cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Tompkins County.
Both individuals are in isolation, and all close contacts are in quarantine. Both cases were identified following travel, according to a Feb. 22 press release from the Tompkins County Health Department. The cases were identified through Cornell University’s COVID-19 testing lab as a part of its services for the Cayuga Health System and Tompkins County, the department stated. The health department has notified the regional New York State Department of Health and the New York State Wadsworth Public Health Laboratory of the cases.
There have been a total of six cases of the U.K. variant in the county. The health department announced the first case Jan. 15. Another three cases were identified Feb. 3. The U.K. variant was first found in New York state Jan. 4. As of Feb. 20, there were a total of 136 U.K. variant cases identified in New York state.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.K. variant is a more contagious variant of COVID-19. In January, experts in the U.K. stated that this variant may be associated with an increased risk of death as compared to other variants of COVID-19, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding, the CDC stated.
Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County public health director, advised residents to continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines.
“We are confident that we successfully identified and isolated the cases in this situation,” Kruppa said. “This is a more contagious mutation of the virus, and we need to be vigilant. We are seeing more presence of this variant in the U.S., and that may continue. We all still have a part in stopping the spread and must continue to diligently wear masks, avoid crowds and keep distance from one another.”
As of Feb. 22, there are 137 active cases in Tompkins County. At Ithaca College, there are 6 active cases as of Feb. 22. Testing for the spring semester at the college is done through a saliva self-collection process. Samples can be dropped off by 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at the Athletics and Events Center, the Campus Center and Terrace 13. Symptomatic members of the campus community are not allowed on campus and should seek testing at The Shops at Ithaca Mall sampling site or downtown sampling site.