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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh to quarantine after Binghamton mayor tests positive for coronavirus

Tom Magnarelli
Peter Baynes, Executive Director of the New York Conference of Mayors, speaks at a news conference in Syracuse Wednesday. At left is Binghamton Mayor Rich David, who tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday night.

Binghamton Mayor Rich David announced Thursday morning that he has tested positive for COVID-19, one day after appearing at a news conference in Syracuse with several other upstate mayors. 

In a statement on Twitter, David said "I am feeling fine and will be resting at home," and that he is working with health department officials on contact tracing. 

David spoke indoors at a news conference Wednesday at Syracuse's City Hall Commons. He and other mayors, including Syracuse's Ben Walsh, Albany's Kathy Sheehan, and Ithaca's Svante Myrick, spoke about the need for a federal stimulus package to help local governments. None of the mayors wore a mask while they spoke at the podium, but wore them otherwise and kept their distance from each other.

Most of the mayors that took part in Wednesday's press conference are part of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM). Following the press conference, the mayors went to Skaneateles for a meeting at The Sherwood Inn. But once arriving in Skaneateles, David didn't feel well, so he drove himself to Auburn Community Hospital, where he later tested positive for COVID-19. He spent the night in the hospital and was released Thursday afternoon.

Walsh said Thursday afternoon that health protocols were followed and his contact with David was minimal. the Onondaga County Health Department will conduct contact tracing of individuals at the event. He said he was tested for COVID-19 Thursday and will be tested again early next week.

"If it turns out everyone comes back healthy, then it will be reinforced that those precautions work. If that’s not the case, then it probably warrants reconsideration of everything we’re doing," Walsh said. "But again, I’m confident we followed the rules."

Walsh defended bringing all the mayors together for a press event that reiterates what they’ve all been saying individually for a while.

"The issue of stimulus has become politicized," he said. "So I do think there was significant value to have all of us mayors making the same points and the same points and making the same case.  Whether that moves the needle is to be determined."

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan both said Thursday that they will also enter a precautionary quarantine. 

The press conference was also attended by a number Walsh's staff, as well as staff of other mayors, and Syracuse-area journalists, including from WRVO Public Media. Many of those people are also self-quarantining.

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.