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Officials optimistic as COVID-19 cases decline in Onondaga County

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Onondaga County saw a 31% decline in the number of positive COVID-19 cases last week, and officials say that’s an important trend as colder weather approaches.

“I think we're at a pretty positive turning point right now related to what the data is showing with new cases,“ Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said Monday. “Even our positivity rate, which I don’t put much credence in, because it’s symptomatic testing. So you’re just testing sick people, it’s not a community positivity rate, dropped drastically last week."

There are currently 849 active cases in the county, and McMahon noted that one-third of them are in individuals below the age of 29, and almost half are spread by household contact. McMahon expects numbers to continue to get better, once kids between the ages of 5 and 11 get the vaccine before the end of the year.

"I think we’ll get 30-40% participation right away, is my guess,” he said. “And we’ll slowly get up to 50%. That’s a lot of people and that brings a lot of immunity to the community."

McMahon also said Monday the county is looking to expand testing for symptomatic individuals, in an attempt to ease pressure on local hospitals and urgent care facilities.

“What can you do to help hospitals? We can build up testing infrastructure which alleviates pressure on urgent cares,” he said. “We don’t have nurses here we can send to the hospitals. This is something we can do though.”

The pandemic and a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers has caused a shortage of workers in nearly all healthcare facilities.

Onondaga County will also hold two clinics this week offering the Moderna and Pfizer booster shots. Appointments for those clinics can be made here. Appointments can also be made at any vaccine site run by New York state, or at a local pharmacy.

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.