Dear Ithaca College Community,
I know that some people have expressed concerns and are asking questions regarding the positive coronavirus cases that have been identified within the Ithaca College community. As the medical director of the college’s Hammond Health Center, I wanted to reach out to help give you a greater understanding about the medical and public health practices surrounding COVID-19 case tracking and reporting.
The Tompkins County Health Department will not make public any information regarding the identity of individuals who have tested positive. Out of respect for the medical privacy of these individuals, Ithaca College is not disclosing identifying information as well.
This may provoke anxiety for those who are concerned that they may have come into contact with the virus unknowingly, so I want to make sure that you understand the mechanism for individuals being made aware that they have been exposed:
- The Tompkins County Health Department is notified of any positive cases.
- The 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 health department in order to provide support and guidance to them, including quarantine and, if they are symptomatic, testing.
- If the health department has not notified you, then you are not considered a close contact.
I recognize that the uncertainty surrounding the spread of coronavirus can at times feel overwhelming and scary. It is during such times that we need to do what we can to help support one another. It is also critical to continue practicing social distancing, hand washing, and other enhanced hygiene measures in order to protect ourselves and each other.
Ellyn Sellers-Selin, M.D.