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Onondaga County streamlines contact tracing: Fewer potential exposure warnings, new app

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Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon has announced the county will no longer provide notifications of stores or businesses that a COVID-19-positive individual could have visited.

Onondaga County is streamlining the contact tracing regimen that’s used to try and corral the coronavirus. This comes as the county continues to report large numbers of positive cases every day.

Numbers in the last few weeks have hovered between 150 and more than 200 new cases every day and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says that’s a lot of work for county staff doing case investigations.

"What we’re tweaking here is we can’t have 200 cases a day, track down the commercial activity for a week and put them out there unless there is direct exposure or direct risk for people,” McMahon said.

That means no more notifications of stores or businesses that a COVID-19-positive individual could have visited.

"We can’t be as specific with quarantines as we could have in the beginning of the process,” McMahon said. “We’ve had to tweak other proactive policies that people got used to, but aren’t as effective as they were at the beginning of the pandemic.”

McMahon says -- with the community spread -- everyone should be watching for symptoms of the coronavirus, and he emphasizes everyone who may be a direct contact will be notified. Large clusters of cases will also result in a public alert. He’s also hoping a new app put out by New York state can help contact tracers.

“It will allow people to enter in their contacts and possible exposures into the app,” McMahon said. “By doing this it helps with contact tracing efforts, and helps us have better turn times.”

McMahon reported 153 new cases another death from COVID-19 in Onondaga County Sunday. The county’s infection rate now stands at almost 4%.