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Health & Medicine

The Hardest Part For CNY Hospitals During This COVID-19 Surge? Staffing.

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The current stress from COVID-19 on the Onondaga County healthcare infrastructure comes from a staffing concern, not a lack of beds. The State Health Department Monday ordered hospitals across New York to increase their bed count by 25%.

County Executive Ryan McMahon said physical space is not going to be the struggle.

“Some of these hospitals even have facilities that we could probably utilize before you would utilize Manley. But again, it’s all staffing now.”

The state is hoping to recruit retired volunteer medical professionals by covering the fees needed for them to practice again. McMahon said this will help because unlike the first wave of the pandemic, the national rise in positivity rates leaves fewer doctors and nurses to aid communities other than their own.  Onondaga County’s current 7-day average positivity rate is 5.1%. McMahon acknowledges that it’s better than many other parts of the state, but he says it’s not good enough.

“If you looked at us and compared us, if we were our own state, we would be, what, the fifth or sixth best state in the country right now from the positivity rate," said McMahon. "But again, even if you’re fifth or sixth best, it still doesn’t meet the mark if we can’t treat our sick. That’s why we need more from all of us to try and flatten this thing out."

McMahon said they are continuing to expand testing capacity. The county reported 303 new cases of the virus Monday and 228 people hospitalized. Two community members died of COVID-19 since Sunday. McMahon said vaccine doses could be coming to nursing home patients early next week. Distribution planning between the county, state, and federal government is ongoing.