TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—COVID-19 cases have begun to creep back upwards again in Tompkins County, underlining the need for caution even as vaccination eligibility opens up and the county population continues to be vaccinated.

On Wednesday, March 17, the county reported 21 new positive COVID-19 tests from the previous day, countered by 9 recoveries and releases. That leaves the total number of active cases at 136, up steeply from just a week ago when local active cases were at 98. Encouragingly, though, there are no people with active COVID-19 cases hospitalized.

Over the weekend, a 30th death from COVID-19 was reported by the Tompkins County Health Department, which occurred at a nursing home. It was at least the 32nd death reported from a nursing home in the county, according to state figures (the discrepancy between county and state numbers here is difficult to describe at length, but more details are here. The state’s numbers differ from the county’s and have Tompkins County listed for 48 deaths from COVID-19 now). After a relatively quiet month between early February and early March, three people have now been reported by the county health department to have died from COVID-19 in the last 11 days in the county.

As for vaccinations, New York State lists 27,705 Tompkins County residents who have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine eligibility greatly expanded on Wednesday, too, as now non-profit workers, public-facing government employees and essential service workers. More specifically, the groups include public works employees, social service and child service caseworkers, government inspectors, sanitation workers, DMV workers, County Clerks, building service workers and election workers.

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