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McMahon ends weekly COVID-19 briefings: 'The worst is behind us'

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Tom Magnarelli
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WRVO Public Media
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

At least once a week for about the past year and a half, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon has taken the podium to brief the community about the status of the coronavirus pandemic. Those briefings came to an end Thursday, because he said the county is no longer responding to an emergency.

The briefings started out every day focused on case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths. They were still taking place a couple of times a week to get the word out about vaccinations. And as vaccinations rose and COVID cases dropped, the briefings, broadcast to the community on Facebook, fell to one a week.

"We’ll never take our eye off this thing,” McMahon said. “We’ll always watch this virus. We respect this virus. But the good news is we are not in a position where I need to be here once a week talking about this virus anymore. We’ve moved past that, and knock on wood, we’re never in that position again."

McMahon credited the power of teamwork getting the community through the pandemic so far, praising essential workers, non-profit partners, and county employees. And he said a community-wide robust vaccination rate is the reason there are so few cases of COVID reported anymore. At this point, two-thirds of the community is vaccinated against the virus, with over 80% of individuals over the age of 60 fully vaccinated. He said there is still work to do getting shots to hesitant communities and the younger demographic.

"We need to continue to vaccinate, and get these rates up, so that any variants that eventually will be a dominant variant, the Delta variant eventually will be, that our community doesn’t see any hiccups in this process," McMahon said.

To that end, the county will continue vaccinating in the basement of the Civic Center. It’s also planned a pop-up clinic on Syracuse’s south side in July.

"We’ve still got a lot of issues that need to be addressed related to COVID, but the worst is behind us."