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Deadliest month of COVID-19 in Onondaga County continues

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

December has been hard on central New York. It’s been the deadliest month from COVID-19 in Onondaga County since the pandemic started almost ten months ago, and one rural county is asking people to be extra careful to avoid spreading of the virus.

COVID has claimed 69 lives in the last seven days alone, including 12 on Monday, a somber County Executive Ryan McMahon announced in a briefing.

“It’s just been sobering, very tough month of December, and the last two or three weeks have been just unbearable at times,” McMahon said.

While the numbers aren’t as stark in Cayuga County, officials there are concerned about a December surge in cases as well. Legislature Chair Aileen McNabb-Coleman called on residents to be more diligent than ever, as the year-end holidays continue.

"I’m asking our residents to reconsider plans, to recoil all activities, that includes being out and about in the community,” McNabb-Coleman said.

McNabb-Coleman said Auburn Community Hospital in particular is worried about hospitalizations stemming from the December coronavirus surge; especially potential staff shortages in the face of a growing number of cases. There could be a bit of relief on that front; a new COVID transitional unit at Loretto will begin accepting nursing home residents this week. McMahon said those are individuals who are no longer sick, but because they still test positive for COVID, aren’t allowed back into their facilities.

“19 individuals from our county will be transitioned in the next 24-48 hours,” McMahon said. “There will be residents from other counties that will be in our hospitals. That will be a regional asset."

There is some other, more positive pandemic news from McMahon. He applauds a change in the state’s quarantine rules that mean individuals who are exposed to the virus only have to quarantine for 10 days instead of 14.

"Less disruptive if you’re thinking about schools for kids and teachers and also businesses and their employees,” McMahon said.

And McMahon noted the number of new daily infections has been trending down in recent days. But only time will tell if there will be an end-of-the-year holiday surge of the virus.

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.