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As COVID-19 cases double in Onondaga County and triple in Syracuse, elected officials push vaccine

Ben Walsh.jpg
Tom Magnarelli
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, right, with First Deputy Police Chief Joe Cecile, during a briefing Tuesday

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Onondaga County has doubled from a month ago, with more than 1,000 cases. In the city of Syracuse that number has tripled, compared to August, with 365 active cases. Elected officials continue to push for more people to get vaccinated.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh called the high numbers very concerning and said they haven’t seen numbers like this since late last winter.

“We know that the delta variant is the biggest factor,” Walsh said. “We also have college students back, which is something we’re monitoring. But we know that there is one solution and that is getting people vaccinated.”

Walsh said the city’s vaccination rate continues to rise, but slowly. Nearly 60% of adults 18 and older have received one dose. That’s well below the county average of 80%. Only 43% of the city is fully vaccinated, compared to 65% of the county.

“Unfortunately, it also helps to muddle some of the messaging around getting vaccinated because you do see breakthrough cases,” Walsh said. “But all the data still suggests you’re at a higher risk to contract the virus if you’re unvaccinated and at a higher risk to get a lot sicker if you’re not vaccinated.”

On Twitter, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said 87% of ICU patients were unvaccinated.

"The vaccine is our best tool in this fight," McMahon said.

About two-thirds of the county's cases on Monday came from household contacts, travel and higher education.

In an effort to increase the vaccination rate, Syracuse has implemented its vaccine or weekly testing mandate for city employees. Testing began this week.