The Tompkins County Health Department is reporting a potential public exposure to COVID-19 at AT&T, 748 S Meadow St in Ithaca

The employee who tested positive worked on Friday, January 1, from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, January 2, from 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The health department recommends anyone who may have been exposed to the virus at AT+T to monitor their health for any COVID-19 symptoms. Listeners can visit the health department website to learn how to get tested for COVID locally.

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Cayuga Health System continues to host COVID-19 vaccine clinics at the former Sears Store located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall - at 40 Catherwood Road in Ithaca.  The next vaccine clinics will be held Saturday, January 9th from 7:30 am to 12:45 pm, and Monday, January 11th from 7:30 am to 1:45 pm.

Currently, only individuals who are considered eligible using the criteria listed in Phase 1A of the New York State Department of Health Phased Distribution can receive a vaccine at one of the scheduled clinics.  This includes many front-line, high-risk health care workers -- as well as workers who have direct contact with patients and clients.

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Earlier this evening, Dr. William Klepack, Medical Director of the Tompkins County Health Department weighed in on why people should receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible.

According to Dr. Klepack, the Tompkins County Health Department will be continually updating information about who is eligible to receive a vaccine under future Phases of Distribution.  The Health Department will also be posting dates of future vaccine clinics.

Health care providers and workers who think they might be eligible are highly encouraged to visit the Tompkins County Health Department vaccine information website to check if they are on this list.

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Now we’ll take a look at the local COVID-19 caseload. The number of hospitalizations in Tompkins due to complications from the virus are at 22 as of yesterday. According to the Tompkins County health department, at of the time of our 6 p.m. broadcast there are 324 active cases of COVID-19. Yesterday there were an additional 49 positive cases and 43 people were released from quarantine.

In Schuyler County, today there were 13 new cases of COVID-19 reported. 68 active cases remain, according to their Health Department. 4 people are now hospitalized due to the virus.

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The state government is providing up to five thousand dollars in grants to restaurants facing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ithaca Journal. The application process begins on Monday with the three million dollars Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery fund.

To qualify for a grant of up to five thousand dollars, a restaurant must meet specific criteria which includes: being a full service establishment providing meals on site with either in-restaurant dining or grab-and-go; being located in New York state; not exceeding three million dollars in revenue; being able to document hardship during COVID-19; and agreeing to follow New York state COVID-19 guidelines and policies. Chain restaurants are not eligible.

The restaurant Industry has experienced a roller-coaster year of closing indoor dining, transitioning to takeout, slowly reopening in phases, and in some designated areas, back to takeout only.

While grants are always welcome, restaurant owners across the state say that other government programs have been insufficient in offsetting COVID-related costs, or in some cases preventing permanent closure. They are advocating for a sound plan to reopen with indoor dining.

Contributing writing by WRFI Volunteers Susan Fortson and Esther Racoosin