Tompkins County Health Department

ITHACA, N.Y.—With more than 1,200 confirmed cases, Coronavirus is causing issues worldwide —prompting the Tompkins County Department of Health to issue an advisory on the virus.

It may seem like a distant concern, but Ithaca has close ties with China, particularly at Cornell University. Local officials were given an informal update at a Tompkins County Legislature meeting last week, informing them that the county Department of Health was taking steps to address concerns and put in place safeguards, especially at the colleges, where international travelers visit frequently.

“As the coronavirus outbreak evolves, Tompkins County Health Department is working closely with local medical providers including Cornell Health, Ithaca College Health Center and Cayuga Medical Center, to protect the health and well-being of our community,” The county said in a release Tuesday. “This new coronavirus strain which originated in Wuhan, China, has not previously been found in humans.”

Five cases have been confirmed in the U.S. so far, but none in New York, though Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week that nine potential cases have been tested.

“While there have been no confirmed cases in New York State, as of today our Department of Health has sent samples for nine individuals to CDC for testing; four of these samples have proven negative and five results are still pending,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. “These five individuals remain in isolation as their samples are tested at CDC. While the risk for New Yorkers is currently low, we are still working to keep everyone informed, prepared and safe.”

The release goes on to say that “there is low risk of infection to community residents at this time.” But, if you are planning any travel outside the country, you are encouraged to visit the CDC’s Traveler’s Health webpage for the most recent travel warnings from the Centers for Disease Control.

The department of health also offered tips on what to do in the case of displaying symptoms, and general tips if you find yourself with the regular old flu, which New York State is still reporting as widespread as of January 11.

If you recently traveled to China and have a fever and cough or shortness of breath, you should:

  • Call your medical provider and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others until you are well.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

The coronavirus is spread from someone who is sick through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact, or touching surfaces where the virus is present. There are no vaccines to protect yourself from this virus. If you do not have symptoms of illness, there is no need to limit normal daily activities.

Since we are in the midst of cold and flu season for upstate New York, we remind everyone to take these additional steps to keep yourself healthy:

  • Get the flu vaccination if you have not done so already
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Stay home if you are sick
Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces

Stay informed. Get updated information on coronavirus at:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

World Health Organization: www.who/coronavirus

For more information call 607-274-6604 or go to