Public Health Response and Testing

The latest information about the impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the health of members of the Ithaca College community.

April 6 Update for the IC Community on COVID-19

A Message from the IC Medical Director

Since new information about the COVID-19 pandemic is being gathered all the time, I wanted to reach out as the medical director of the college’s Hammond Health Center to provide you with some important updates and answer some questions you may have.

This is a challenging time with lots of unknowns. People are worried about their loved ones and often feel isolated. So the first thing we want to make sure you know is that the college has resources to help you remotely!

Read the Full Message from Ellyn Sellers-Selin, MD

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I learn about the number of COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County and New York State?

Both the Tompkins County Health Department and the New York State Department of Health provide daily updates on their respective websites. For Tompkins County, this not only includes information on the number of individuals who have tested positive, but also important local health advisories.

(updated 4/6/20)

How can I be tested for COVID-19 in Tompkins County?

A drive-through screening site has been created to safely and rapidly test community members who are sick or at risk of having contracted the novel coronavirus. Testing is available Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. The Cayuga Health Sampling Site is located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd. Pre-register online at www.cayugahealth.org or call the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.

(updated 4/6/20)

Do I need to cover my face with a mask?

At the start of this pandemic, the information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that healthy people do not need to wear masks. Individuals who were feeling ill were encouraged to wear masks to minimize the spread of droplets while sneezing or coughing. New studies indicate that some individuals with COVID-19 won’t have symptoms or won’t show symptoms initially and still may transmit the virus to others.

Due to this new information, the CDC now recommends that all people wear a cloth face covering when in public settings (especially when social distancing measures cannot be maintained). The cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those latter two items are critical supplies reserved for healthcare workers or emergency first responders. Though wearing a face covering may offer some protection, it is essential to continue social distancing measures (including staying home unless absolutely necessary) and appropriate hand hygiene.

More information about the use of cloth face masks can be found on the CDC website.

(updated 4/6/20)

What is really meant by social distancing?

As a physician and mother, I feel a strong responsibility to emphasize the importance of social distancing to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of becoming infected with COVID-19. Working from home, utilizing remote learning from home, and connecting with friends and loved ones via electronic devices instead of in person are other examples of social distancing. This is how we “flatten the curve,” minimize the possibility of transmitting significant illness to others, and help to lessen the burden on our courageous healthcare personnel.

Once you have established who is in your family unit, your unit should ideally not be interacting with others in person. The current recommendation is that even meet-ups between different family units be avoided as some people can be infected and not show symptoms (or show such mild symptoms that they may spread illness to others without realizing it).

Please avoid leaving the house unless absolutely necessary and avoid public transportation when possible. When shopping, utilize social distancing, avoid eating and drinking, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands frequently.

(updated 4/6/20)

Can you tell us more about any IC community members who are being monitored or tested for COVID-19?

To protect their privacy, the college legally is not able to release personal information about any students or IC community members who are being monitored or tested for COVID-19, including their location.

When an IC community member is diagnosed with COVID-19, the Tompkins County Health Department initiates appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk and shares limited information with the college so that the college can assist, as needed.

(updated 3/23/20)

How are individuals made aware that they may have been exposed to COVID-19?

The Tompkins County Health Department is notified of any cases where the person tested positive for COVID-19.  The Tompkins County Health Department conducts a contact investigation by interviewing the person who tested positive in order to identify close contacts. Those close contacts are then notified by nurses from the Tompkins County Health Department in order to provide support and guidance to them, including quarantine and, if they are symptomatic, testing.  If the Tompkins County Health Department has not contacted you, then you are not considered a close contact.

The Tompkins County Health Department may determine it appropriate to share limited information with the college so the college can also initiate appropriate protocols to evaluate the situation and take steps to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

(updated 3/23/20)

Will the Tompkins County Health Department or Ithaca College make public any information regarding the identity of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19?

No, due to privacy laws, neither the Tompkins County Health Department nor Ithaca College will publicly disclose identifying information of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

(updated 3/23/20)

How can I help combat stigmatization, bias and xenophobia related to COVID-19?

Many of us are concerned about what members of our IC community may be experiencing, including possible stigmatization or discrimination based on racial bias or appearances. Please help others understand that the risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality.

Stigma doesn’t fight COVID-19 and will hurt innocent members of the IC community but sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumor and misinformation from spreading.

If you know of incidents of bias related to COVID-19, please use the Bias Impact Reporting Form to notify IC.

(updated 3/23/20)