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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, Onondaga County could face restrictions

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County officials reported another 107 cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the number of cases in just the last four days to nearly 500. 120 cases were reported Saturday, and 149 on Friday.

County Executive Ryan McMahon said Sunday that two county residents have died from the illness in the last 24 hours, a 91-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man. That brings the total number of deaths in the county to 214 since the pandemic began.

McMahon said in a tweet Sunday that Monday’s number will likely be high again.

“We need to test, test, test when sick,” he said. “Avoid large gatherings and social distance when in public.”

The numbers have been rising for the last few weeks in the county, to a point where they may meet New York detailed microcluster rubrics. The state could announce COVID-related restrictions in the county as early as Monday.

It’s not something the community should be taking lightly, according to Upstate Medical University's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Stephen Thomas.

“I remain very optimistic about what this community can do, but I have never been more concerned about this whole process than I am right now,” Thomas said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo could announce what, if any, restrictions will be placed on the county in an attempt to slow down the positive cases.

McMahon is already moving on some preventive measures. Starting Monday, anyone can get a free COVID test at the Regional Market in Syracuse. Starting Tuesday, the county is taking aim at one of the areas where clusters of cases commence: bars and restaurants. McMahon said the county will begin testing employees, and he wants the hospitality business to support that initiative.

“We’re going to offer rapid asymptomatic testing. We want participation,” McMahon said Friday. “If there’s not participation, we’ll know the industry isn’t taking it seriously and we’ll look at other mitigation.”

McMahon admits there is one area where it may be harder to herd the virus, community spread that comes from social gatherings.

“I do think gatherings are a problem. And that’s the reality. We’ve been saying this for two, three weeks and we haven’t been getting the community response,” he said.

Thomas said COVID fatigue is one reason people may be finding it harder to abide by all the public health policies. But he said people can have a social life in a time of COVID.

“You need to do whatever you are comfortable doing. But the issue is, you have to think about it,” he said. “And I think people are still in summer mode. We’re not there.  We’re in a much different place.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.