TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.— Tompkins County now has its first death from COVID-19, the county Health Department announced Monday.

The person, who the release calls “elderly,” had been hospitalized at Cayuga Medical Center since Oct. 6 and died earlier Monday, Oct. 12. No details were made available on the contact investigation involving the patient, though they were not a nursing home patient.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family affected by this loss. This passing is a difficult reminder that COVID-19 is still having serious impacts on our community,” said Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County Public Health Director. “I urge everyone to pay careful attention to what we can all do to stop the spread. While our ability to manage the disease in Tompkins County has increased, we’re tragically reminded that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts older adults, those who are immune-compromised and those with underlying health conditions.”

Citing medical privacy guidelines, the health department said there would not be more information released at this time. A separate release from Cayuga Health stated the deceased was a high-risk patient and was 95 years of age.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of a 95-year old patient at Cayuga Medical Center due to COVID-19,” stated Dr. Martin Stallone, CEO, Cayuga Health System. “Our hearts go out to the patient’s family during this difficult time. I would also like to recognize the dedication of our Cayuga Health team that continue to treat all COVID-19 patients. They remain well prepared and committed to their calling and commitment of treating all patients, no matter what the diagnosis.”

Prior to Monday, Tompkins County had not seen any deaths from coronavirus, though its presence as a public health crisis has been felt deeply nonetheless. As of Oct. 12, 464 residents of the county have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic, with 428 having recovered. There remain 35 active cases in Tompkins County.

“My heart breaks for this loss, losing a loved one and member of our community is never easy, and this terrible pandemic makes grieving all the more difficult. On behalf of the entire County Legislature, we grieve for the family and hold them close in our thoughts. We’ve come together as a community over the past eight months to do everything we can to fight this disease, it is my hope that we will all join together in continuing to do all that we can to protect one another,” said Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature.

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at