TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The infection rate in Tompkins County is still in the Centers for Disease Control’s “high” zone for COVID-19 infections, with recent positive test numbers remaining higher than they have been in months. The majority of New York has entered “high community transmission” territory in terms of COVID-19 spread.

The criteria for a “high” transmission rate is defined as 100 active cases per 100,000 residents, which Tompkins County has surpassed for several days. While meeting that criteria doesn’t necessarily change any guidelines or restrictions, the health department did publish clarifying directions for testing and recently the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County have issued a variety of mask directives as well as other precautionary measures in response to the recent jump in cases.

Wednesday’s report from Tompkins County Health Department shows another 35 positive tests, meaning there are now 131 cases now active in the county. It’s the highest single day of reported positive tests since February 7, indicative of the ongoing presence of the Delta variant and its powerful contagiousness. There are currently 11 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and despite the high case numbers there has been just one death during the recent spate of cases.

Schuyler County, Wyoming County and Clinton County are the only counties in New York State that are under the “moderate” level. Every other county in the state has either “moderate” or “high” transmission currently.

Some may blame the increasing arrival of students in Ithaca as the culprit responsible for the higher case numbers, but that doesn’t appear true to this point. So far, Cornell University’s COVID Tracker shows 19 positive tests over the last week (though only from August 10 to August 16), compared to 110 for the entire county. Ithaca College shows only three active cases currently.

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