Update for January 5, 2021

Kendal at Ithaca’s experience with COVID continues to be frustrating. Just as we near the end of a period of restriction, another positive test result is reported. Much of the frustration arises from the fact that these episodic cases don’t seem to have any thread that holds them together within our community. That leaves us guessing about whether there is some reasonable intervention we could make. On the other hand, having such low rates of positive tests does mean that what we are doing – frequent testing; appropriately using PPE; adhering to ‘return-to-work’ protocols; and the ever-present advice to wash hands frequently and wear masks – is working as we are not experiencing large outbreaks, even as the incidence rises in Tompkins County. We are braced for another post-holiday spike.

This morning we received a positive COVID test result for a Cascadilla House resident from a Saturday PCR test.  The resident is asymptomatic.  We performed rapid tests on all Cascadilla House residents this morning and all were negative, including the resident who tested positive.  Another source of frustration.

There is a possibility that this positive is a result of exposure to a staff member who tested positive nine days prior to the Saturday test, the more recent dietary staff positive (this is less likely), or it could be a false positive – there is no way to know for sure. This will require a two-week extension of the visitation restrictions for the entire Health Center and a continuation of full contact and droplet precautions for Cascadilla House residents. 

Hoping to reach the end of the tunnel…

Our Executive Director, Laurie Mante, closed her communication to staff today by saying, “I want to send a SHOUT OUT to the 98 staff and the 38 T House residents who received their first COVID vaccine yesterday – it was an exciting day and an important first step in wiping out COVID!”

We shall stay the course and continue our strategy to prevent widespread presence of COVID here on our campus, however unpleasant or frustrating it seems. What’s important is that it is working !

Betsy Schermerhorn