top of page

Health Advisory: Community Gatherings and COVID-19

(Ithaca, NY – March 11, 2020) – The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) continues to work closely with community partners in response to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. While there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York State (the most updated numbers are on the NYS Department of Health website), there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County. The best ways to protect yourself and slow the spread of illness are to take everyday actions - stay home if you are sick, cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or elbow, and wash your hands well and often. “We recognize that our community is concerned about large gatherings and upcoming community events,” said Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director. “It is important that we give each other permission to practice social distancing, including staying home if you are sick and simple actions such as elbow bumps instead of handshakes and hugs.” Anyone who is at risk for serious illness from COVID-19: older adults, those who are immune-compromised, or have a chronic medical condition, especially heart or lung disease, and diabetes, should consider their interaction in the community. This may include avoiding crowds, staying away from others who are sick, and making sure you have the supplies and medications that you need. These are the same precautions that any of these groups should be taking during flu season. See more guidance from the CDC. For community events, meetings, and gatherings of any size, TCHD recommends taking the following steps to prevent and reduce the spread of disease: Request that individuals who are sick or at high-risk not attend the gathering.COVID-19 spreads through droplets. Keeping a distance of 6 feet is considered far enough to avoid most droplets and germs from speaking, coughing, or sneezing. Increase seating space or move to a larger venue if possible.Ask attendees to avoid shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.Have tissues and handwashing available. If soap and water is not available, provide hand sanitizer.Encourage attendees to wash hands well and frequently. Build in breaks and reminders for handwashing.Post signage about slowing the spread of germs and handwashing at your event. Posters are available on the TCHD website, NYSDOH, and CDC. A reminder that TCHD will update numbers daily on the Health Department website regarding those in quarantine, test results pending, and confirmed cases. We currently have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County. How to Protect Yourself: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If a tissue is not available, cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Avoid handshakes and hugs, use an elbow bump instead Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website and posters are available for download on the TCHD website. If you develop symptoms of illness including fever, cough, or trouble breathing, call your healthcare provider before you go to the office. As this situation evolves, TCHD will continue to send out updates and check the website for updates. Stay informed. Get updated information on COVID-19 at: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: NYS DOH: World Health Organization: Visit the CDC’s Traveler’s Health webpage for the latest travel health notices at: A hotline is available for New Yorkers to call for information about COVID-19: 1-888-364-3065. For more information call the Health Department at 607-274-6604 or go to Find us on Facebook @TompkinsPublicHealth and Twitter@TompkinsHealth.


bottom of page