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Onondaga County confirms two cases of COVID-19

Ellen Abbott
Onondaga County Commissioner of Health Dr. Indu Gupta shares details of the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Onondaga County.

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon has confirmed the first two cases of the coronavirus in the county. The individual is a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions. In the wake of this news, all county schools will be closed as of 4 p.m. today, Monday, March 16. 

McMahon, along with Onondaga County Commissioner of Health Dr. Indu Gupta and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, shared the news this morning during a briefing.

Notification of a positive test result was received by the county health department this morning. Tracking the individual’s recent movements is the next step, according to Dr. Gupta. It is believed that this particular case is one of community spread, as the woman has no travel history that the county knows of. The woman is hospitalized at this time.

"We are in a mode of investigation. We have to pretty much backtrack every step this individual has taken in terms of identifying those people she might have been in contact with," Gupta said in the county's daily briefing at noon today. The health department will contact anyone they think came into contact with the coronavirus-positive individual.

"This is the time to remember that you have to use your personal protective measures: washing hands; covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing; stay home if you're sick; call your doctor for advice if you have any cough, shortness of breath, whether you have traveled or not traveled."

Later in the day Monday, county officials announced that the woman's husband has also tested positive for the coronavirus. Right now, they are the only two confirmed cases in the county.  

To recap, new social-distancing measures being taken at this time, by executive order include:

  • The closure of all schools in Onondaga County as of 4 p.m.
  • Each district has a continuity plan in place for food and nutrition, given that many students receive free or reduced-fee lunches and other nutritional assistance.
  • Comprehensive planning will be released for increased child care.
  • No more than 50 people will be allowed to gather, in line with guidance coming out of the governor’s office.
  • All libraries and indoor park facilities in county government will be closed as of 4 p.m. today, including Rosamond Gifford Zoo. All programs and scheduled events at parks are canceled through the end of April.

Both Dr. Gupta and McMahon have indicated that individuals getting tested or who have received a positive test results for the virus will be under mandatory quarantine, if they are not already under quarantine while receiving treatment in a hospital. Ignoring or breaking said quarantine can result in a Class B felony.
McMahon expects to release specific details on the food and nutrition plans for school-aged children in Onondaga County, plus updates on child care and daycare options, with a focus on options for those who are hospital and health care workers -- those plans are being built into Onondaga County's emergency management plans and will maintain proper social distancing. Additional meetings will occur today with a focus on maintaining the proper nutritional needs of the county's older residents, as well.

In the meantime, the Syracuse City School District has shared some information via Twitter on where to pick up food during school closures:

Area restaurants will be contacted to help provide food for the community -- first responders and the public. More details on those efforts forthcoming.

Onondaga County's latest coronavirus briefing (Monday, March 16 at noon) is available below: