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Health officials in Tompkins say masking should continue in healthcare facilities

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

While the New York State Department of Health has dropped the mask mandate in healthcare facilities, Tompkins County remains in the “high” community transmission level, which means the mandate essentially remains in place locally.

The state’s latest move brings it in line with the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines, but the mask mandate for healthcare settings is still in effect in Tompkins County. The county’s Whole Health (TCWH) Director, Frank Kruppa, stated that healthcare facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, and diagnostic centers, must continue to require masks for staff and visitors.

Once the transmission level drops to “medium” or “low,” individual healthcare facilities may determine their own masking policies based on CDC guidelines. Kruppa requests that the public respect the operating plans developed by individual facilities.

Tompkins County currently has a “high” community transmission level designation based on new cases (98 over the last week) and a positive test rate over 10 percent (14.29 percent during that time). Though there are not many active COVID-19 hospitalizations in Tompkins County, the community transmission level will determine masking requirements in healthcare facilities.

The CDC reports that nine new patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the last week, occupying 4.3 percent of total available inpatient beds and 11.6 percent of total available ICU beds in the county. These figures have remained stable for about a year.