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McMahon says confusing, emotional process led to Phase Two reopening: ‘We need to do better’

WRVO Public Media File Photo
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said over the last 24 hours, the behind-the-scenes restart process played out in public. It was confusing, draining and emotional, he said, but at the end of the day, everyone got the result they wanted. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier Friday, that the central New York region could now move into Phase Two. 

The governor’s office gave out guidance and the green light for regions to go into Phase Two at the last minute. On Thursday, some elected officials were highly critical of the miscommunication.

“We need to do better with that,” McMahon said at his press briefing on Friday. “What was important was that the data is driving the decisions. Nothing else.”

McMahon said they also waited late for guidance going into Phase One.

“What was different about this was that the public got to see the sausage-making process in real time, where normally, many of those things are done behind the scenes,” McMahon said. 

There is agreement that things need to be different going into Phase Three in two weeks, if the region’s COVID infection rate doesn’t spike. While weighing the economic reopening, McMahon said the mental health of the community is also a very serious issue right now.

“We’re looking at suicide rates,” McMahon said. “We’re seeing opioid overdoses on the rise. I don’t believe that this is a coincidence that this is all happening during a pandemic."

Looking at Phase Two, malls like Destiny USA have to remain closed. McMahon said he is petitioning the state to allow Destiny to open. Zoos are also supposed to remain closed. But Onondaga County opened the Rosamond Gifford Zoo last week. McMahon said it’s a county park, so it will stay open. Private zoos have to remain closed.  

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.