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Onondaga County considering more pandemic restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News file photo

This week should tell whether Onondaga County goes the route of some other upstate counties and impose new pandemic-related restrictions, as a Thanksgiving surge in cases continued through the weekend.

Digging into the data shows this latest surge is one of younger people. On Friday, County Executive Ryan McMahon noted 90% of the latest infections are happening in people below the age of 60. 20% are in kids 11 and under, who haven’t been able to be fully vaccinated yet.

“Meaning our most vulnerable demographics are not bearing the brunt of this which is good news when it comes to loss of life numbers,” said McMahon.

Going forward however, McMahon says there comes a point where the vulnerable population does need to be protected. Both Monroe and Erie counties have issued states of emergency due to rising COVID cases. But both have had higher rates of the virus than Onondaga County. McMahon said he would take action depending on the data. Specifically, if Onondaga County shows a 10-day average of more than 70 cases per 100,000 people. Phase one of mitigation would focus on identifying the virus in the community. After that, the county would consider masking mandates

"We would look at masking grocery stores, drug stores, retail, banks, any activities any vulnerable individual needs to do,” he said.

McMahon said the county wouldn’t regulate other venues, like gyms or restaurants or movie theaters, where people make a choice to expose themselves to a risk. He said ultimately any mitigation decisions must be balanced.

"There will not be lockdowns. There will not be business limitations that will cripple our economic recovery as well,” he said But we will if we have to, protect our vulnerable in daily activities, the best we can."

As of Saturday, data from the New York State Health Department showed Onondaga County with a 7-day average of 68.2 cases per 100,000 people. The central New York region, which includes Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, and Oswego counties, had a 7-day average of 70.0 cases per 100,000 people.