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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Seniors with COVID-19 get antibody therapy to avoid hospitalizations

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
Testing continues at the Oncenter in Syracuse.

Onondaga County is hoping some preemptive testing for COVID-19 at local senior living facilities will lead to fewer hospitalizations.

Asymptomatic testing at one senior living facility last week turned up 27 positive tests for COVID-19 among residents. Some of those residents will now be administered an antibody therapy that could keep them from getting very sick. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said monoclonal antibodies will be administered at the facilities.

“One way to avoid going to the hospital is to have this done quickly,” McMahon said. “Usually, you have to go there and have an IV treatment. So we partnered Upstate with the medical teams at the facility, identified through the residents who would qualify. Those who qualified and consented, are getting the treatment.”

The virus has been especially deadly for the over 65 population, so McMahon said treating the virus early is key. McMahon said the county will continue hunting down the virus with asymptomatic testing at more senior facilities. The December surge of COVID cases, while easing a bit, is still taking lives, most of them seniors. McMahon reported on Wednesday, eight new deaths due to COVID in Onondaga County.

The county has a plan for immunizing the general public with the COVID-19 vaccine, when the time comes. McMahon said the county has the resources to take on a big vaccination effort and has passed its plans along to the state. He emphasized it’s important these vaccines happen in a timely manner.

“You can’t get behind the other regions and so how do you do it as quickly and efficiently as possible?” McMahon said. “We know how, because we have a plan. We test the plan every year.”

McMahon said the county has 3,000 employees who can work a massive vaccination program. Several locations have been mentioned as possible vaccination sites, including the vacant Shoppingtown Mall, which the county expects to take control of, in early January.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.