ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – The Tompkins County Health Department reports that as of noon Monday, there were no cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the county.
Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino, County Health Department Director Frank Kruppa and CEO of Cayuga Medical Center Dr. Marty Stallone discussed the county’s preparations and precautions for COVID-19 at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
That means the likelihood of contracting the virus is very low in the county. That was repeated by officials several times during the press conference.
Even so, they explained that 39 people are now under quarantine. but only one person has shown any symptoms and they have been tested to determine if they have the coronavirus.
Cornell University recently announced the suspension of its study abroad program in Rome and the return of all its students, faculty and staff there. Those who returned were urged by Cornell to undergo their quarantine in their permanent residence but some are in quarantined in Ithaca.
The officials said that, at this time, they are not urging that events be cancelled. However, Cornell announced late last week that as of Monday all events of 100 people or larger at the university will be cancelled or postponed.
Stallone and Kruppa explained that they are coordinating with the local universities, school districts, health care providers and other community healthcare organizations to maintain communication about the virus.
Kruppa said that Health Department staff are familiar with how to handle quarantines.
“The health department has a quarantine and isolation plan that we use frequently,” he said. “We treat diseases in a similar manner, such as, tuberculosis, mumps and measles. We use these same protocols and practices.”
Kruppa explained that people are quarantined for two reasons: they have been in CDC designated high risk countries like mainland China, Italy, South Korea or Iran, or they have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19.
Everyone currently under quarantine is not showing any symptoms of sickness. Only if someone shows signs of being ill will they be further isolated and tested.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may include coughing, fever, or difficulty breathing.
Stallone said that the hospital and their associated medical practices are well-stocked with the supplies they need. He also explained that the people who should regularly wear face masks are health care providers. Even then he detailed that they wear a specific type of mask which is individually fitted.
Other masks should only be used by someone who is sick to reduce the likelihood of spreading illness. The masks most commonly seen will not prevent someone from contracting COVID-19.
Kruppa said people who feel sick should follow CDC guidelines which include, staying home if you’re sick and constantly wash your hands.