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Onondaga County looks to 'empower' community in COVID-19 fight

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta and County Executive Ryan McMahon hold a briefing Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Onondaga County Health Department is counting on new self-attestation forms and the “honor system” to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The forms can be used for people who tested positive for COVID-19 to be released from quarantine or to apply for paid family leave from New York state.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said it’s a way to empower people to take charge of their own health.

"We have to find ways to live with this COVID,” said Gupta. “There's no other way to do that. This is the balancing act where people feel like, ‘Yes, this is what I can do. This is how I can protect me, my coworkers, my family, and also I can live my life.’"

Onondaga County’s COVID-19 numbers broke records over the weekend in the wake of the arrival of the more contagious Omicron variant. County officials said self-attestation will help take the pressure off of contact tracers who are stretched thin.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said he expects to see higher case levels for about two more weeks, and he doesn’t think implementing more restrictions would change that.

"If anybody is suggesting that this thing would be at 20 cases a day right now, that's fool's gold,” said McMahon. “We're in winter. We're indoors. It's cold outside. We're indoors, and we're dealing with the most contagious variant. There would be widespread cases regardless of if everyone was doing everything they could do."

The county is also stepping up symptomatic testing options to help track COVID-19’s spread, reopening the F-Shed and using facilities at Syracuse University and Shoppingtown Mall. It will also continue giving out home tests through towns and villages.