Cornell is turning part of its Animal Health Diagnostic Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine into a COVID-19 testing lab, according to the Cornell Daily Sun.

The University wants to be able to test its students on a regular basis and also lessen the strain on the local health institutions providing COVID-19 testing. The plan was developed by the Cayuga Health system and the Ithaca campus, Weill Cornell Medicine, and the Tompkins County Health Department.

The lab is now completed, and the university is planning to test students one to two times a week. However, Cornell is unsure how often they will test people on campus who are not students. Anyone is eligible for testing if they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or presenting symptoms of the virus. 

Cornell has a very low rate of the virus on campus now, though students returning for the fall will change those numbers. According to a sampling of over 4,000 asymptomatic university faculty, staff and students, only 5 COVID-19 tests came back positive. Two of the 983 asymptomatic faculty and staff tested positive in June, and three of the over 3,200 local and returning students tested positive as of July 31. 66 percent of students tested were graduate/professional students, and 34 percent were undergraduate students.

Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, as of the time of our 6pm broadcast, there are no new cases of the virus, and 1 more recovery in Tompkins County. According to the Health Department, that leaves 25 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.

There were no new cases of the virus in Schuyler county Wednesday. There is one active case and 22 recoveries. 

Beginning Wednesday, people seeking a COVID-19 test at the Shops at Ithaca Mall sampling site must make an appointment, and register in advance in order to get tested. According to the Ithaca Times, Cayuga Health changed the policy to minimize wait times and reduce traffic congestion in the area around the mall on Catherwood Road. 

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms, or who have come in contact with someone who tested positive in the previous 14 days will still be able to receive tests free of charge. Pre-surgical patients and essential workers can get their tests for free. 

There is also now an option for people who do not meet those criteria to still receive a test, for $99. Since the site is run privately and not by the state, there hasn’t been enough capacity to offer tests to everyone that wants one. Cayuga Health says the hope is that making the change to requiring appointment registration will make tests more available for all members of the community. 

To pre-register, call Cayuga Health Call Center at 607-319-5708, or cayugahealth.org

The United Way of Tompkins County Community Care Fund is giving more than $750,000 towards 50 organizations across Tompkins County, thanks to their annual grant program.

According to the Ithaca Voice, the program has different focuses, one being financial stability. This includes childcare centers and food resources. 68% of the funding will be dedicated to organizations working on financial stability. Another focus is health, where 26% of the funds will be allocated, and 6% of the funds will be dedicated to education. 

The 50 recipients of grants are expected to run 80 programs in Tompkins County. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 residents will use their services. 

The United Way of Tompkins County says that funding levels for next year are expected to be similar to this year. Organizations that depend on the money should expect similar amounts next year. 

The Tompkins County Public Library, or TCPL is making their computers available for county residents who have not yet completed the census, reports the The Ithaca voice.  

The Census determines funding for counties in areas like transportation and education, and also determines congressional representation. A resulting undercount could have large impacts on the region for the next decade.

TCPL computers will be available on Tuesday and Thursday from 10am-1PM, and then again from 3PM-6PM. On Saturdays, the computers will be available from 10am-1PM, and then from 2-5PM. Due to the pandemic, guests are required to enter in the south entrance, and masks and social distancing will be required. Employees will sanitize the computers between uses. 

The Tompkins County Public Library is located at 101 East Green St in Ithaca.

New York State is backpedaling a legal barrier for nursing homes and hospitals that had been put into place in April, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

These protections were set up to protect nursing homes and hospitals from lawsuits and prosecutions surrounding care for patients during the pandemic. Around the state, nearly 6,600 people in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities died from complications from COVID-19. Now, these facilities can be held liable for care for patients not being treated for the virus. 

Some nursing homes and hospitals disagree with the push to roll back the immunity, saying it could negatively affect the care provided during potential future spikes that could again overstress the local health care system.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Interns Jon Donville and Phoebe Harms