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More than 200 social distancing complaints in Syracuse. Businesses that reopen face $1,000 fine

Onondaga County
The latest coronavirus numbers from Onondaga County.

In Onondaga County, there were 17 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 537. Forty-nine people are in the hospital and 21 people are in critical condition. More people have recovered from the virus than there are active cases. But more than 1,000 people are still in isolation and quarantine. 

In the city of Syracuse, Mayor Ben Walsh said the city police department has received 237 complaints involving social distancing. Walsh said the approach of police with individuals is to educate and inform, and most comply. For the small percentage who don’t, Walsh said he is not willing to risk the health of police officers by further engaging with those people.

“When you look around at other communities, you have seen what can happen to police departments and fire departments when they are unnecessarily exposed to high-risk individuals,” Walsh said. “We’ve seen high call-in rates in fire departments and police departments across the country. To date, we have been very lucky that we have not seen that in our police department or our fire department.”  

Walsh said that policy could change if needed.

"We don't want to put our officers at a higher risk, by requiring them to engage with individuals who have already shown disregard for their and others' health, especially because even if the citation is issued, the ticket is handed over, the officers go on their way, and those individuals can continue violating the law," Walsh said.

Most businesses have been found to be compliant. Four businesses that were not, were ordered to close down. They complied and the police department wrote up reports and sent them to the New York State Attorney General’s office. None of those businesses have reopened since, but if they do, they could face a $1,000 fine.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.