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CNY COVID cases outpacing state rate but local hospitalizations remain low

Onondaga County officials are monitoring hospital capacity as COVID cases are again rising in the region. Health officials this week warned people in the Central New York region to be cautious as case rates are far higher here than the rest of the state.

The county reported 181 new cases Tuesday — that’s significantly less than the more than 2,000 cases reported in a single day during a surge earlier this year, but the case rate for the five-county region that includes Onondaga is more than three times that of the state.

County Deputy Executive of Human Services Ann Rooney said even as positives increase, the hospitalizations are still within a range that facilities can manage.

“Within our communications with them, they are saying ‘We are okay,’” Rooney said. 

County data shows 49 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, but that’s far below what hospitals have seen before. More than 250 were admitted in mid-January, and a record 336 patients were hospitalized for COVID in late December 2020.

Rooney said current figures include infected people who are in the hospital for an issue other than coronavirus.

“A good percentage of what they're seeing is at the hospital is somebody comes in with another reason; they test everybody and they happen to have COVID and are asymptomatic for COVID.”

Rooney said it’s unclear what’s driving the latest surge. But she said possible causes include recent travel during winter break and the new more contagious BA.2 variant, which is now the most common in the U.S.

The county does also include positive results from at-home tests in its reports to the state, and Rooney said she’s uncertain if other counties do the same. But she said even with the more contagious strain, people seem to be experiencing more mild symptoms.

“The people are being treated by their primary care physician. They're able to stay at home and get over COVID, by and large."

Central New York’s case rate is around 46 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. The statewide rate is about 14 per 100,000.

Tarryn Mento is an award-winning digital, audio and video journalist with experience reporting from Arizona, Southern California, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Tarryn produces in-depth and investigative content for WAER while overseeing the station's student reporter experience. She is also an adjunct professor at Syracuse University.
Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.