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In Tompkins County, Small Gatherings Fuel Rise In COVID-19 Clusters

TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) - Compared to some Southern Tier counties,Tompkins has had very few COVID-19 cases. For instance, they have never had more than 100 active cases at a time, until last week.

On Friday, the Tompkins County Health Department reported a spike in COVID-19 cases and the presence of several small clusters and 117 active cases. The county also has seen more hospitalizations due to COVID-19 than ever before.

The first COVID-related death of a county resident was last month.

Frank Kruppa is director of the Tompkins County Health Department. He said the recent clusters were from various, separate small gatherings where people were not wearing masks or staying safe distances apart.

Kruppa said it's still necessary to always follow safety precautions because it only takes one person at a gathering to infect dozens of people. He acknowledged that some people are starting to experience what's been called "pandemic fatigue".

"We absolutely recognize that fatigue is setting in with all of the guidance, but we’ve come a long ways and we’ve been fairly successful and we’re really just asking our community to double-down and help us continue through the winter season by following the guidance so we can limit the spread," said Kruppa.

Recently, thirty people tested positive in a single day. For Tompkins County, that is a significant increase.

Kruppa said although some recent cases were related to stores or restaurants, businesses are not the greatest problem.

"We haven’t seen a lot of cases from business exposure but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still risk and that we still need to follow the guidance," Kruppa said.

Cornell University reported 14 new cases the day before, upgrading it's alert level to yellow on Friday.

That level means student gatherings are limited to no more than ten people, some classes may go online and some students may have to undergo extra required testing.