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Onondaga County braces for omicron spike ahead of holiday gatherings

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Onondaga County encourages testing and vaccines before Christmas gatherings

About a week ahead of busy Christmas Day gatherings, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is asking central New Yorkers to take all the precautions they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"If we can avoid a real hit here, going into Christmas here, that will keep us well positioned to get out of this in better shape, so please, please, please consider that," said McMahon.

The county is offering asymptomatic rapid testing clinics ahead of the holiday weekend. Testing will be offered at the Civic Center Monday-Thursday, Fabius Community Center on Tuesday, and the Cicero American Legion on Wednesday.

A big source of worry is the rise of the omicron variant, which has already been identified in Onondaga County.

McMahon said studies show omicron is twice as infectious as the delta variant with symptoms that tend to be milder. However, he said the variant still has the potential to make people seriously ill and strain the local hospital system.

"We need to brace ourselves for higher case numbers and know that the most important metric now is the hospitalization numbers and our ability to treat our sick throughout the community,” said McMahon. “Not just COVID patients, but others who are in critical condition."

McMahon is also encouraging people to get their booster shots as soon as possible, saying vaccines are the best tool we have to get through the weeks ahead.

“Certainly what it has turned out to be is a tool that helps keep you out of the hospital, gives you protection from the virus, but most importantly, gives you that protection from the ICU,” said McMahon.