COVID-19 community surveillance project launches

Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), in collaboration with the Tompkins County Health Department and Cayuga Health System, are conducting a COVID-19 community health survey to estimate levels of infection and immunity in Tompkins County, New York. Results of the survey can help individuals understand the current risk of COVID-19 spread and learn about preventive strategies taking place in their community.  

Field assistants will begin doing door-to-door surveys on multiple weekends during winter and spring 2022. The first survey of randomly selected households will be conducted in the city of Ithaca on Feb. 6 and Feb. 12. Each household member older than two will be asked to swab the front of their nose and complete a short survey.

Using the provided samples, Cornell scientists will conduct COVID-19 PCR testing, antibody testing and virus sequencing free of charge. COVID-19 PCR results will be posted in participants’ Cayuga Health System portal. Antibody levels and virus sequence data will not be made available to participants, as these are research tests and not FDA approved. However, de-identified aggregated data will be made publicly available online here.

Casey Cazer, D.V.M. ’16, Ph.D. ’20, assistant professor and study lead, hopes county residents will join the study. “The success of this survey will depend on people’s willingness to participate,” she said. “We want the random sample to accurately represent our community. If your household is selected, please say yes.”

Financial support for this project is provided by the Packard Foundation.