Coronavirus Update, July 21, 2020

Ithaca College will not be allowing students on New York State’s travel advisory list to return to campus, as cases of COVID-19 continue to spike around the United States. The additional safety precautions, along with a plan for campus-wide testing were announced to the IC community on Friday.

According to the Ithacan, Students coming from a state on the mandatory quarantine list will have to attend classes remotely until that state is removed from the advisory. The mandatory 14-day quarantine list applies to states with a positive test rate that is higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or has a 10% or higher positivity rate over a week average.

As of Tuesday, Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington have been added to the quarantine list, and Minnesota has been removed. Those 10 states join Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin on the list of 31 states on the travel advisory list.

Ithaca College leadership noted in their email that prior to returning to Ithaca, all students should get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days. Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus is asked to recover at home before returning to campus. All IC students will be tested for COVID-19 by Cayuga Health System when they arrive in Ithaca. Additionally, students must sign a Community Agreement vowing to follow all campus safety guidelines.

Finally, access to Ithaca College’s campus is being limited to faculty, staff, students and others who have been approved by the school’s Vice President.

Ithaca College will have a phased return to campus beginning in September with hybrid mode of remote and in-person instruction. The college’s official reopening plan to the State will be submitted and made public in early August.

Three people are now hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Tompkins County as of Sunday. The Ithaca Times reports that these hospitalizations are the first since May 30th. The Times also reports that there has been the first case of COVID in a nursing home within Tompkins County. An individual at Cayuga Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation center has been put in isolation at this time.

With no new cases in Tompkins County as of Monday, there are currently 32 active cases in the county. In total, more than 20,000 people have been tested, with 202 positive results.

In Schuyler County, there were 4 new cases of COVID-19 reported as of Monday, according to their Health Department. There are 17 other recoveries in the area.

A new historical marker is set to be installed outside of the house where famed writer Alex Haley was born, the Ithaca Voice reports.

Haley became known for his famous literary works that included “Roots” and “The autobiography of Malcolm X.” While he was known for growing up in Tennessee, he was born in Ithaca in 1921, when his father was a graduate student at Cornell and his mother a student at the Ithaca Conservatory of Music.

The new blue and yellow marker is designed to draw more attention to the house at 212 Cascadilla Street, in addition to the garden built in 1993 to commemorate Haley’s life, one year after his death. The effort to create the marker was led by S.K. List and the Legacy foundation of Tompkins County. They also worked with the History Center of Tompkins County to secure funding for the sign and the marker.

The marker’s unveiling will be broadcast live August 8 at 11 a.m. on the History Center’s Facebook page.

The Greater Ithaca Activities Center, or GIAC, has announced that they will be able to open some programming for the second half of summer 2020, thanks to large community donations. The Ithaca Times reports that this is made possible with a $21,000 donation from one individual and $100,000 in grant funds. The money will allow the center to open pop-up activities and bring back staff who were furloughed due to the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Most activities will be shorter than usual, lasting about 2-3 hours, and will require participants and staff to wear masks. According to a statement from GIAC, activities will range from dance, to arts and crafts, skateboarding, nature-based activities, music, youth leadership, and some supervised swim times at the Alex Haley Municipal Pool.

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, or TCAT, is resuming bus route 22 in an effort to help local residents and visitors visit local parks this summer. The Ithaca voice reports that route 22 will run from Wednesday to Sunday from 9am until late afternoon, starting on July 22nd.

The route travels from the Ithaca Commons to Taughannock Falls State Park, and includes stops at Ithaca Children’s Garden and Cass Park. In Northeast Ithaca, the bus will travel from Stewart Park to the Commons, with stops at Ithaca High School and the Fall Creek neighborhood. Afternoon trips will also serve the Alex Haley Pool at GIAC.

The route runs every summer but was cancelled this summer due to low ridership amid the pandemic. It was resumed in part because of the new “explore the waterfront” program that is being run by the Children’s garden, Discover Cayuga Lake, Paddle-n-More, and the Sciencecenter. That program begins tomorrow, July 22nd.

See the full travel schedule at

New York State Governor Cuomo says he may roll back some of the state’s phased reopening if bars and restaurants continue to not follow social-distancing guidelines.

The Albany-Times Union reports that Cuomo says progress has been threatened by gatherings across the state, in particular, in downstate New York among younger people. In a press conference yesterday, he shared that certain bars and restaurants have broken guidelines by allowing these congregations to happen, which could lead to shutting them down again.

He also said that some local governments were not doing their job of regulating these behaviors, which contributes to the risk of New York having another spike of COVID-19, especially as cases are still rising in other states.

Governor Cuomo was in Georgia for a press event yesterday, but stated that he will not be quarantining upon return, despite it being on the list of states for mandatory quarantining.

Organizations that offer services for individuals struggling with mental health and substance abuse will be negatively affected by the state’s withholding of funds.

The state recently issued letters to County health departments stating they would be withholding around 20 percent of the funds these departments were expected to receive this month. This is being done in an effort to mend the budget deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

This could negatively affect New Yorkers as overdoses and cases of substance abuse have increased since the pandemic began and many support programs were forced to limit contact, the Albany-Times Union reports. Lawmakers such as Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who represents part of Manhattan, says these additional cuts could threaten the lives of individuals who rely on these services.

Reducing funds for local assistance programs has been one of the major ways the state has saved money during this time. However, the State has said the withholdings are not synonymous with budget cuts, and they plan to release additional funding by the end of the year.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Interns Phoebe Harms and Jon Donville