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Health & Medicine

Syracuse Mayor Walsh in Quarantine After Exposure to Coronavirus-Positive Binghamton Mayor

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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is one of seven mayors voluntarily quarantining at home for 14 days "out of an abundance of caution" after potential exposure to COVID-19 at a Wednesday press conference.  Binghamton Mayor Rich David fell ill a couple hours later, went to the hospital, and tested positive. Walsh characterizes his contact as minimal, and is leaving it to county health department officials to determine who else might be told to quarantine.

"I'm standing generally within 6 feet of him.  I think the fact that we both used the same podium and microphone gave me additional consideration in terms of risk that others standing in back of the room didn't have.  That's what the health department does, and they do it extremely well.  I expect that they'll be able to differentiate those circumstances and act accordingly.”                           

Walsh stands by his decision to host the press conference, which was suggested by the New York Conference of Mayors.  He says everyone sanitized their hands, stood far apart, and wore masks except while speaking at the podium in the City Hall Commons Atrium. 

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Credit John Smith / WAER News
Upstate Mayors' Press Conference Wednesday could have exposed numerous people to coronavirus after Binghamton Mayor tests positive on same day.

"I'm confident we took the necessary steps to mitigate the risk.  But there's always risk, and I think we need to acknowledge that.  I'll certainly feel better once we start to see test results.”                             

That includes his own results and those of other mayors, city staffers, and media at the event.  Walsh says this is the first time he’ll be working from home for any length of time; he says he’s been going to city hall almost every day since the pandemic began. 

In addition to Walsh, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick were among those who are also going into voluntary isolation as a precaution.