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Oswego bans nonessential travel, institutes other measures to slow the spread of coronavirus

WRVO News (file photo)

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow announced a series of measures slow the spread of the coronavirus. During a news conference Thursday, Barlow said his office is still getting reports of people not following social distancing guidelines.

"We still continue to see people out traveling, going into stores, acting like everything is alright. It's not business as usual," Barlow said. "We shouldn’t see as many cars on the street as we're seeing. We shouldn't see people walking around like we're seeing. We shouldn't see people going to Walmart and Price Chopper every day like it's a family outing and acting as if everything is ok. Social distancing is important and we need to take it seriously."

The Social Distancing Scoreboard, which uses mobile phone data to track movement, recently gave Oswego County a 'D' in social distancing, which Barlow said is unacceptable.

"Getting a 'D' is not acceptable, not for this community, not for the city of Oswego. We can do better. City government's job is now to make people do better," he said.

Barlow said the city will ban all nonessential travel in the city starting Friday. People should not travel unless they are an essential employee going to and from work, going to a medical appointment or getting groceries or shopping for essential items.

Barlow is also asking large stores in the city to have aisles be one way, put up plexiglass shields to protect cashiers, and be more strict on social distancing at checkouts. He said Oswego police officers will enforce these new regulations, mainly with education at first.

"We're developing materials, flyers and instructing our officers to start a dialogue with individuals to explain why these measures are important," he said. "And we're going to be doing that educational program over the next few weeks."

Barlow also announced that all city playgrounds, basketball courts, pavilions and city facilities will be closed. He said parks will remain open, but he will close them if people do not follow the rules.

"If we continue to see mass gatherings in parks and we continue to see people not properly social distancing while they're out, I'm going to be forced to close the parks outright and I don't want to do that," he said. "So if you want to go out for a walk in the park, practicing social distancing measures, do it properly and take it seriously."

Barlow also announced that Wright's Landing Marina will remain closed until at least July 13. The boat launch will remain open. The city is also delaying its implementation of its ban on Styrofoam products. It was scheduled to take effect April 22, but will be pushed back to September 8.

Meanwhile, Oswego County health officials say an employee of the Kinney Drugs store in Pulaski has tested positive for COVID-19, and say anyone who visited the store on Thursday, March 26 after 9 a.m. may have been exposed. Anyone who was at the store on that day should watch for possible symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath or gasrtointestinal illness until April 9. 

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.