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Health & Medicine

COVID-19 Update: 3rd Death In Onondaga County, Possible Public Exposure At Manlius Tops

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(UPDATED AT 6:15 PM TO REFLECT THIRD DEATH)

Three people have now died from COVID-19 in Onondaga County, two in the past 24 hours. At his Thursday briefing, County Executive Ryan McMahon said one was a woman in her sixties with significant underlying health issues.

"This is the reality of this disease," said McMahon. "Any of us can catch, and our immune systems battle it in different ways. But our community's most vulnerable, folks with underlying medical conditions, this is a fight."

The third fatality was a man in his 80s with significant underlying health conditions. Twenty four new cases were reported Thursday, bringing the total cases in Onondaga County to 301. Both McMahon and Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said they are still seeing people who are not social distancing which is resulting in continued community spread. 

"I think as a community overall we're taking it seriously," said McMahon. "But as we've seen, we can take this all very seriously, and if 5% of us don't, we're still going to have cases. We're still going to have community spread."

McMahon also announced a new program for healthcare workers with concerns about bringing traces of COVID-19 home or just needing a break.

"So we are going to have a county program that will provide lodging at hotels for our healthcare workers," said McMahon. "Who even just need a break and are concerned about going home. Or if people are in a quarantine situation, they want to go to a hotel for lodging, we're going to do that." 

He says more information on this program will be available in the coming days. 

Potential Public Exposure: Manlius

Onondaga County Health officials say members of the public who visited the Tops Market on W. Seneca Street in Manlius may have been exposed to an employee who has since tested positive for COVID-19.  Those who were at the store last Thursday between 6 a.m. and 1:10 p.m. and Friday from 6 to 11 a.m. should monitor themselves for symptoms until the end of next week. Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said their investigation has been thorough, but gaps remain. 

"The reason we decide to look into and go to the public," said Gupta."Even though we sometimes feel like there is minimal chance, we are going to go and inform the public. Why? Because there is community transmission. It's happening."

Health officials are in the process of identifying and notifying all close contacts of the individual.  Tops has since deep cleaned the store and installed additional protective equipment. The employee is recovering.

Clinical Trial Seeking Recovered COVID-19 Patients

SUNY Upstate Medical University is seeking recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma in an emergency clinical trial to help treat other severely ill patients battling the disease.  It’s part of a national project approved by the FDA, with the theory that people who’ve recovered have developed antibodies against the disease. Those antibodies could be given to a currently infected person to lessen symptoms and speed recovery.

“The unknown with this type of product is currently we don’t know how much antibody we’re actually getting from recovered patients and that’s a question that needs to be answered and we’re hoping to do that," said Chair of Microbiology and Immunology at Upstate Dr. Timothy Endy. "But the risk of getting a unit of plasma, which we do all the time for people who are post-surgical or in need of volume, is very low for any serious side effects and the potential benefit could be great.”

If you’re 18 or older, tested positive for COVID-19, and are 14 days out from your last symptom, call Upstate Clinical Trials at 464-9869.