Welcome to Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Here's your rundown of news impacting the Ithaca-Tompkins County community and beyond.
New York State on PAUSE Extended Through April 29; Ithaca Schools Respond
NYS: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that his New York State on PAUSE executive order has been extended through Wednesday, April 29, keeping all NYS non-essential businesses and schools closed until this time.
Gov. Cuomo later indicated in another tweet that the fine for violations of state social distancing rules would be increased from the original $500 to $1000.
In response to the governor's extension, the Ithaca School District assured the community on Twitter that it would continue to provide school meals and remote instruction to students throughout the closure.
Last week, the school district promoted a "virtual spirit week," reposting pictures of students and staff who dressed up at home according to theme days like pajama day and jersey day.
This week, the Ithaca schools are in their second week of delivering school meals to students throughout the district. To order these meals, follow @IthacaNYSchools on Twitter and Ithaca City School District on Facebook to see order deadlines.
For more information, visit https://www.ithacacityschools.org/.
Tompkins County Sees 102 COVID-19 Cases; Wegmans Coffee Shop Employee Tests Positive
ITHACA: The Tompkins County Health Department notified the community on Sunday that a Wegmans employee who works in the Coffee Shop is a confirmed COVID-19 case. The individual worked multiple shifts at Wegmans during the past two weeks, located at 500 S. Meadow St., Ithaca.
If you had close contact (within 6ft.) with any employee of the Wegmans Coffee Shop between Monday, March 23 and Saturday, April 4, 2020, please do the following:
It is recommended that you get tested at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd., between the hours of 10am-3pm Monday through Friday. Pre-register online cayugahealth.org/ or call the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.
Self-quarantine in your home for 14 days from the last date you shopped at the Wegmans Coffee Shop. Refer here for more information about how to self-quarantine.
If you seek testing and the result is negative, continue to self-quarantine and monitor yourself for the full 14 days from the last time you shopped at the Wegmans Coffee Shop. If you become symptomatic, seek testing again.
Monitor your health for any symptoms of cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
“Communications like this are meant to reduce further exposure by encouraging individuals who may have come in contact with the infected individual to act in the community’s best interest, get tested, and self-quarantine even if they are not exhibiting symptoms,” stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director.
“We are working closely with Wegmans management to ensure the safety of all employees and patrons. Grocery stores are essential businesses, and it is important that they are able to continue to serve our community.”
The Wegmans Coffee Shop is currently closed and thorough disinfection of the area has been completed. Wegmans management is in the process of instituting additional measures for employees including, distributing masks, temperature checks, and screening for other symptoms prior to each shift.
“We appreciate the steps Wegmans has taken to date and are implementing moving forward to ensure the health and safety of their employees and patrons,” stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director.
As of Monday evening, the Tompkins County Health Department reports 102 positive cases of COVID-19 in the community.
The public needs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 not just to protect themselves, but others in our community who are most vulnerable to getting very sick – older adults, those who are immune-compromised, and those with underlying chronic health conditions.
It is worth repeating: everyone can take these steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve” in our community:
· Stay home, even if you don’t feel sick, unless absolutely necessary.
· Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
· Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
· Avoid close contact with other people.
· Cover coughs and sneezes.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
· Physical Distancing does not mean emotional isolation, check on friends, coworkers, neighbors through phone and text.
· Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain (eg. grocery stores and pharmacies). The CDC released a new recommendation to wear cloth face coverings on 4/3/20.
As this situation evolves, check the TCHD website for updates. Frequently Asked Questions are here: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/factsheets/coronavirusfaq.
TCAT Extends Fare-Free Policy Until May 23
TOMPKINS COUNTY: A no-fare policy that went into effect last month to reduce any potential for coronavirus contagion between drivers and riders will be extended to Sat., May 23, which marks the end of TCAT’s spring service period.
The TCAT Board of Directors called a special remote conference Monday and voted unanimously to extend the policy, which went into effect March 20 and was set to expire this Thurs., April 9.
The policy eliminates the need for riders to put their hands on the farebox, as well as limits the amount of time they spend near drivers, who sit adjacent to the fare equipment. The measure also aims to provide financial relief to riders who are struggling to make ends meet during the crisis.
As another precaution, TCAT is asking people to ride the bus only if necessary; if they are essential workers or if they need to travel to pick up life-sustaining basics, such as food and medicine. To promote social distancing, each bus has a 20-rider limit and, while in transit, riders are asked to sit as far apart as possible.
“As this pandemic persists, it remains critical that we continue to do everything we can to protect not only our passengers, but also TCAT drivers and other front-line employees who are fulfilling an essential service, said TCAT General Manager Scot Vanderpool. “This is probably the first time in history that transit agencies all over the globe are asking their riders to stay home.’’
People are obviously obeying stay-at-home directives as transit ridership all over the country has dropped drastically. Since last month, TCAT’s ridership has fallen by more than 90 percent.
Looking for more TCAT info? Visit tcatbus.com.
Residents Should Limit Trips to the Recycling and Solid Waste Center
ITHACA: Tompkins County Recycling and Materials Management would like to remind residents during the COVID-19 pandemic that social distancing does not just mean maintaining a distance of 6’ from others, but also eliminating unnecessary trips from the home. Although the Recycling and Solid Waste Center and other services can be used as needed, residents should take steps to reduce how often they make trips to use these services.
Residents should take these steps to reduce the number of trips they must make:
Reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible to reduce trash
Combine trips—bring more material in one trip rather than taking two separate trips
Defer projects that generate a large quantity of waste
The Recycling and Solid Waste Center, Recycling and Materials Management office, curbside recycling collection, and Food Scraps Recycling Drop Spots are all considered essential services and continue to operate normal hours. Please use these services when necessary.
For more info on recycling and waste management, visit www.recycletompkins.org.
City of Ithaca Updates the City Towing Policy
ITHACA: The City of Ithaca issued a notice on Monday regarding the changes to the city towing policy. On March 4, 2020, the City of Ithaca amended its legislation that pertains to towing. The City worked collaboratively with all of the tow operators on the City’s tow rotation list to adopt a comprehensive policy that defined the rules of operation and incorporated a system of accountability.
Part of the new policy also provided for an increase in towing and storage rates as they had not been increased in over 10 years. The new rates for a standard tow is $200 and the storage rate is now $50 per day after the first 24 hours. The revenue from these fees is collected by the tow operators, as they provide the service, accept all liability, and are required to maintain and insure their fleets.
The City’s goal is to reduce the amount of vehicles that require towing each year but we need your help to do that. Please adhere to the City’s parking regulations, New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, and all posted signage whether on private or public property. Please do not block driveways, park across sidewalks, park in loading zones, or too close to a fire hydrant. You can prevent your vehicle from being towed by being informed.
Read the city's update here.