October 26, 2021

Possible virus exposures in county rise

coronavirus particles

Cortland County announced on Wednesday four places where potential public exposure to COVID19 occurred, bringing to seven the number of such potential exposures this week and 11 since Sept. 25.

That comes as the county confirmed 22 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing it to 113 active cases and a total of 354 since the pandemic began last spring.

People who were at these businesses may have been exposed:

  • Garcia’s, 139 Main St., Cortland. An employee worked there from 3 to 9 p.m. Sept. 25, 3 to 9 p.m. Sept. 26, noon to 9 p.m. Sept. 27, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 1, 3 to 9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday.
  • Red Jug Pub, 31 Central Ave., Cortland. An employee was there from 8 p.m. to closing Sept. 29, 2:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 30, 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, and 8 p.m. Sunday to 3 a.m. Monday.
  • Central City, 17 Central Ave., Cortland. A patron was there from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
  • AJ’s Diner, 202 Port Watson St., Cortland. A patron was there from 10 to 11 a.m. Sunday.

They join previously announced exposures:

  • Planet Fitness, 156-160 Clinton Ave., Cortland, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 1.
  • Starbucks, 145-147 Clinton Ave., Cortland, 1:45 to 7:30 p.m. Friday.
  • Frank and Mary’s Diner, 10 Port Watson St., Cortland, 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

The increase in public exposures, and in confirmed cases, comes as SUNY Cortland has reverted to remote-only learning for two weeks starting Wednesday after more than 100 active cases were reported in a two-week period.

“The recent increase in potential exposures is of concern to the county,” said county Public Health Director Lisa Perfetti in a statement. “We continue to monitor the recent increase and would like to remind the public that the coronavirus remains a clear threat to the health of our community.”

It also comes as a spike has been reported in Broome County to the south, where 402 cases have been reported in the past week; 540 are active and 83 people have died since the pandemic began. Binghamton University was set to begin today a two-week “pause” similar to SUNY Cortland’s.

It also comes as Madison County also announced four potential public exposures Wednesday, including at Point Place Casino in Bridgeport.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new strategy Wednesday to curb the spread, focusing on areas defined by ZIP code.

“Step one, you take the most dramatic action within the cluster itself where you have the highest density of cases,” Cuomo said. “Understanding that the people in that cluster interface with the surrounding communities, take additional action in the communities surrounding the cluster. Then as a precautionary measure, take action in the communities that are outlying that area.”

In the urban core of Broome County — Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott — the state will limit mass gatherings to 25 people, limit indoor and outdoor dining to four people per table, limit houses of worship to 50% of capacity. Businesses will remain open, as will schools, with mandatory weekly testing of students, teachers and staff.

That plan will go into effect by Friday, with fines for violating the mass-gathering order increased to $15,000.

Can that happen in Cortland?

“The reason the state has set up these cluster zones is to properly identify hotspots across the state and determine what precautions need to be taken to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the hotspot,” Perfetti said. “However, Cuomo did not give specific metrics about how the state will determine if an area is deemed a cluster.”

“The rise in cases is concerning and reminds us that the virus is still present,” said Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa in a statement Wednesday. “We have seen outbreaks in other counties related to the virus spreading at bars and restaurants. … I want to remind businesses to review their screening protocols and encourage everyone to be doing a self-check at home before they go to work, school, or any other public location. Many people who work or live in Tompkins County also work or live in those neighboring counties that are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases.”