Coronavirus Update, March 16, 2020

Effective 8PM Monday in New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut, crowd capacities must be reduced to 50 people, restaurants and bars will be takeout and delivery ONLY, Gyms will close, Movie theaters will close, and Casinos will close. That’s according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Grocery stores will remain open.

In the last two days, Tompkins County Health Department has announced two confirmed cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19 in the county. The first infected person is a member of the Ithaca College community who tested positive after they became symptomatic on March 5. The second infected person has been in isolation since the samples were collected for testing. The Tompkins County Health Department has started a contact investigation to determine if there were any additional exposures.

New York State's total number of cases has hit 950, according to the state Health Department.

On Friday, Tompkins County officials declared a state of emergency and announced the closure of all county schools from Monday, March 16 through April 12.

Meals will still be available for any student, ​Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. to 12:15. p.m. in the parking lots and bus loops at six locations: Beverly J. Martin Elementary School, Caroline Elementary School, DeWitt Middle School, Enfield Elementary School, Lehman Alternative Community School, and South Hill Elementary School

If you do not have access to transportation or cannot leave your home, you can call the county info line at 2-1-1 to arrange food delivery. 

The Ithaca Police Department has also made changes to its operational procedures as of today in the midst of precautions against COVID-19. They are asking that anyone calling 911 or the non-emergency number to please ensure they provide a call back number whenever possible. IPD officers will contact people via telephone before arrival to assess the need for an in-person response. 

For minor reports, Officers will likely provide residents with the report number and complete the report without personal interaction. People are also asked to be prepared to step outside of their home to meet with the officer in an open environment. The Police Department lobby is also now closed to the public.

Tompkins County Sheriff's administrative offices are also closed until further notice, according to a press release. This closure includes access to Pistol permit transactions, and background Checks. It also includes access to request for copies of reports, and eviction proceedings, which are suspended throughout new york, per the NYS Unified Court System. The city of ithaca has also issued a statement that the public is also no longer allowed in City Hall or any other city facility, effective immediately.

Cayuga Medical Center has also announced new COVID-19 precautions that limit visitors to the hospital and increase the screening process in order to enter the building.

The new visitor restrictions state that quote, "all patients, visitors, and employees entering the building will be screened" unquote and that those showing any sign of any illness (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) will not be allowed into any CMC building. Furthermore, only one visitor will be allowed per inpatient.

The hospital will work with families who have special circumstances, such as a critically ill or injured family member, on a case-by-case basis in regards to the new restrictions.

Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osbourne announced Sunday that they’re suspending inmate contact visitation within the county jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In addition, all non-essential professional visitors will not be allowed into the jail. To make up for the suspension of visitation, each inmate will be provided with a limited number of free phone calls. New inmates entering the jail will be housed separately from the general population, until they can be examined by a medical professional.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteer Anna Lamb