Coronavirus Update, October 7, 2020

Results from COVID-19 tests conducted among Ithaca City School District members show that all students tested negative for the virus, and one teacher tested positive. The testing of both students and school staff was put in place to ensure maximum safety as in person learning starts, according to the Ithaca Voice.

615 COVID-19 tests were administered to students, and around 509 of these students were tested at the Shops at Ithaca Mall testing site. The tests were made possible by work done by both Cornell University and Cayuga Health System. The district’s superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown called the results “terrific news”.

The one reported positive case was a teacher at South Hill Elementary School according to New York state’s COVID report card website. The Voice reports that students would not have likely had contact with said teacher because classrooms were closed the week before. ICSD Superintendent Brown stated that the district was not notified whether they had to conduct a contact tracing process.


A joint effort between the Ithaca City School District and its PTA Council led to over 1,500 masks being hand-sewn.  The district will issue the masks to students that recently returned to in-person classes, according to the Ithaca Times. Local businesses like Dibella’s Subs, Sew Green and Ithaca Sew’s provided support, and Joann Fabrics donated materials for the masks.

Stephen Manley , the executive director of Ithaca Public Education Initiative, brought together members of the PTA, local churches,  and other groups. These individuals helped set up pickups and drop-offs for supplies and masks, leading them to reach the production of over 1,000 masks in less than four weeks.

PTA council president Jonathan Butcher spoke about their coordinated effort to help students, saying QUOTE “As our students return to school buildings, we wanted an opportunity to show our support,” END QUOTE.    Both Butcher and Manley are continuing to work with ICSD principals to meet the needs of students.


Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, the latest numbers, released Tuesday from the Tompkins County health department, indicate that two people have been hospitalized as a result of the virus. There are 5 additional positives, and 4 new recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 33 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.

In Schuyler County, there are 4 new cases of COVID-19 reported as of Wednesday, according to their Health Department. There are now 10 active cases in Schuyler.

As of Tuesday, New Mexico is on New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory list. No places from the 35-area list have been removed at this time, according to a press release from the Governor.

As per order of the Governor, individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread must be quarantined for 14 days. The stay at home order applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average. The order also applies to an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.


An increase in COVID-19 cases in the Southern Tier has prompted Tompkins County Health Department to remInd the community to stay vigilant about stopping the spread of the virus.

Other  ounties close to Tompkins County are seeing a dramatic rise in positive cases, with some locations breaking records set  earlier in the pandemic, according to the health department.

In a media briefing held on Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 20 hotspots around the State, each with a positivity rate of about 5.5%. Broome, Tioga, and Chemung counties as well as areas downstate are among those hotspots - but not Tompkins County or Schuyler County.


101 active cases of COVID-19 have been reported on the SUNY Cortland campus, which surpasses the case threshold set by the Governor that requires schools to go remote.

President Bitterbaum and SUNY Chancellor Malatras announced Monday that all on campus activities are cancelled, and in person classes will shift to online, according to the SUNY Cortland website. All students living in residence halls are required to stay on campus to prevent further spread of the virus.

According to New York State Department of Health guidelines, schools with COVID-19 cases that reach 100 or at least five percent of the campus population must: keep residential halls open, convert dining halls to takeout or delivery only, and suspend all non essential campus activities and all athletic programs.

Chancellor Malatras announced that SUNY Cortland will be enforcing his quote “new uniform safety standards” unquote which reprimands students who violate SUNY Cortland’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. Students who break these rules could be put under academic or housing suspension, be barred from participating in athletics, and potentially be banned from the campus permanently.

Contributing writing by WRFI News intern Christian Maitre