This past Saturday, August 22, the Tompkins County Health Department announced that an employee at Simeon's American Bistro in Ithaca has tested positive for COVID-19. The health department states that diners might have been exposed if they were at the bistro this past Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:00 am to 2:00 PM, or from 4:30 to 9:30 PM; or on Friday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
If you dined at Simeon's during those times, the Health Department recommends that you have a COVID-19 test at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot in Lansing. You can register for an appointment online at cayugahealthsystem.org or call the Cayuga Health Call Center at 607-319-5708. Regular hours for the Sampling Site and Call Center are Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.
The Tompkins Health Department recommends that you quarantine for 14 days from the date you dined at Simeon's and monitor your health for cough, fever, and shortness of breath. For more information, go to the TCHD website at tompkinscountyny.gov/health.
Restaurants on Ithaca’s Aurora “Streatery” are reportedly looking into installing heat lamps, to extend the season for outdoor dining.
The Ithaca Times reports that while no concrete plans have been made, businesses along the street are considering their options. Aurora street was closed to traffic earlier this summer in an effort to increase the amount of outdoor space for restaurants as part of the COVID pandemic. Restaurants can put tables on the sidewalks along the street, allowing pedestrians to walk on the road.
Installing heat lamps would in theory extend the season for outdoor dining along the street. However, there are relatively strict state restrictions on the use of heat lamps. Ithaca Fire Department chief Tom Parsons said that he has been asked to consult on the use of heat lamps, but that no decisions had been made.
The New York State Fire code calls for lamps to be at least five feet away from the entrance of the business, as well as five feet away from awnings or overhang.
Despite a bumpy start to the fall semester, thousands of Cornell students are expected to return to Ithaca this week. For some first year students who have to quarantine before school starts, it wasn't the experience that they were hoping for.
The Cornell Daily Sun reports that the move in process has seen some issues, including students moving into their dorms before being tested for COVID-19. Cornell’s stated policy for newly arrived students was for them to be tested immediately upon arrival. Ryan Lombardi, Cornell Vice President for Student and Campus Life said that those students were tested first thing the following morning.
Students reported other issues, such as not being provided bedding for quarantine housing and being given sandwiches and cold items for meals. Communal fridges and bathrooms are being used, making it difficult for students to adequately quarantine. Freshmen interviewed by the Daily Sun also reported that there was relatively little adherence to the behavioral compact, and that they were able to travel freely around campus with no supervision.
In other Cornell University news, Provost Michael Kotlikoff (COT-lih-koff) announced Friday that if the school records 250 positive COVID tests in the first week of the semester, the University will consider moving to online classes.
The Cornell Daily Sun reports that Kotlikoff made the remarks on a zoom call with the University Assembly. It was the first time that a member of the university administration gave a firm number on what it would take for the school to abandon its plan for in-person classes.
He also announced the launch of a new COVID dashboard that is expected to be online today. The Dashboard will provide accurate updates on all the testing efforts ongoing at the school. The website will also provide indicators of how the school is handling the virus, including red, orange, yellow, and green indicators, with red meaning that the school will shut down.
In response to questions about students adhering to the behavioral compact, Kotlikoff pointed out that there are over 100 staff members, and 300 students who are part of ongoing patrols throughout collegetown to enforce the compact and promote public health awareness. Current information about Cornell’s COVID-19 actions can be found at covid.cornell.edu.
Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, the latest numbers, released Sunday evening from the Tompkins County health department, indicate that there were zero additional positive cases as of yesterday and no new recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 7 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.
In Schuyler County, there are zero new cases of COVID-19 reported as of today, according to their Health Department. All formerly active cases have recovered.
Today's News Contributors: Jon Donville and Joanne Izbicki