The Tompkins County Health Department has identified a positive case of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 in Tompkins County.
In a Jan. 15 announcement, the department stated that a contact investigation was conducted and no close contacts were identified. Test results are examined for the strain when an individual states that they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for this variant strain or has relevant travel to the United Kingdom, the department stated. The case was 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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.K. variant spreads more quickly and easily than other strains of the virus. There is no evidence that this strain causes more serious illness nor increased risk of death. This variant was first recorded in the United Kingdom in September 2020, the CDC stated. The UK variant was first found in New York State on Jan. 4.
“While this variant is more contagious, we are confident that we detected the positive case immediately and the individual did not have any close contacts,” Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County public health director, said in a statement. “We all still have a part in stopping the spread and must continue to wear masks, avoid crowds and keep distance from one another.”
The department also announced the death of an Oak Hill Manor resident due to COVID-19. There are a total of 12 COVID-19-related deaths at the facility. The department announced there were seven COVID-19–related-deaths at the nursing home in December 2020, in addition to the four deaths resulting from an outbreak at the facility in November.
The department also announced the death of a Tompkins County resident Jan. 12. There are now a total of 21 COVID-19-related deaths in the county, with 19 resident deaths and two non-resident deaths. There are 289 active cases in the county, with 2,535 total cases since March 2020.
There are 13 active cases at Ithaca College, with 173 total positive cases since Aug. 14, 2020. The college no longer offers COVID-19 testing in the Athletics and Events (A&E) Center. Testing for the spring semester will be done through a saliva self-collection process. Samples can be dropped off by 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at the A&E 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.