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McMahon prepares for COVID-19 uptick while urging calm

Jessica Cain
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon gives a COVID-19 briefing

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is urging the community to keep local COVID-19 numbers in perspective, as federal and state officials sound the alarm about an increase in the COVID-19 Delta variant.

“Throughout the whole pandemic we’ve always tried to find balance related to everything,” said McMahon. “As we know more about the virus and who’s vulnerable to the virus, most vulnerable, that’s really what’s driven decisions, and data’s always driven that.”

McMahon said looking at the current data, Onondaga County is in “good shape.” Daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been in the 30s, and hospital numbers are very low compared to what we’ve seen in the past.

"Bad numbers are when you have 300, 400, 500 cases a day,” said McMahon. “Bad numbers are when you have close to 100 people in the ICU. Bad numbers are when we're losing 18-20 people in a day."

While the more contagious Delta variant is showing up in Onondaga County, McMahon says multiple variants are causing the county’s positive cases.

Still, going into fall, county officials are making plans to prepare for a possible surge. Next week, community testing sites will offer rapid COVID-19 tests. The county also plans to set up back to school testing for faculty and robust testing and screening within the schools.

McMahon said he does not think a county-wide mask mandate is necessary right now. He said if the state asks counties to decide whether students should wear masks in the upcoming school year, the decision would be based on a series of metrics.

"Based off of data at this point, no mask for vaccinated, and based off of data at this point, no mask period, and certainly those would need to be really focused in on with a lot of advice from (Onondaga County Health Commissioner) Dr. Gupta and other medical professionals."

McMahon continues to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying the county's high vaccination rate is helping to keep patients from getting seriously ill, even if there are breakthrough infections.