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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.

‘Substantial’ drop in COVID-19 cases among CNY senior facility residents, after vaccinations

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Tom Magnarelli
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WRVO News (file photo)
Upstate Hospital worker Kenzo Mukendi is the first to receive the vaccine in central New York, last month.

Onondaga County wants to help residents in assisted living facilities get vaccinated for COVID-19. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said most of the nursing home residents in the county have already received their first COVID vaccinations. What worries him are the assisted living facilities that haven’t received the vaccine yet.

"Some are still waiting to be scheduled through the pharmacies,” McMahon said. “Those are really the ones we are pushing to get in there. We’ve been testing there, so we have relationships. If the state can get the vaccine from the pharmacies, they can do it themselves or they can get us to do it. We’re waiting for an answer on that.”

The coronavirus has ravaged the senior community. McMahon says 50% of local deaths have involved nursing home patients, and a quarter of COVID patients in local hospitals are from nursing homes. The good news is out of 327 new cases reported Monday, only three of them are residents of senior facilities.

"We’ve seen a trend over the last week of a substantial drop-off in percentage of cases from nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” McMahon said. “We believe it’s because the vaccine has been administered in these buildings for the most part.”

So far, it doesn’t look like a Christmas coronavirus surge in Onondaga County will be as bad as a Thanksgiving surge that resulted in a record number of COVID-19 deaths, and hundreds of new cases every day. But McMahon isn’t ready to close the book on the impact of Christmas gatherings quite yet.

“Certainly, the next few days will tell the story of how strong the Christmas surge was,” McMahon said. “We were prepared for 600, 700 new cases a day to investigate. So, we were ready for it. Right now, thankfully we’ve not had to investigate that many daily cases.”

He also noted there could be a New Year’s surge that won’t be known for several days yet. Since March, just over 22,000 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19.

The other news on the nursing home front, Loretto is opening a second COVID floor for seniors recovering from the virus, who still test positive, and have been taking up beds in local hospitals.

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.