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Onondaga County Invests In COVID-19 Testing As Federal Aid Remains In Question

Onondaga County Executive's Office

Despite some bipartisan calls for state and local governments to be a part of the next coronavirus stimulus package, it’s looking less and less likely that Senate Republicans are going to include them in their bill. Municipalities like Syracuse and Onondaga County have not received any direct federal aid during the pandemic, but they have lost significant amounts of revenue.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said that the county has been patient as it faces a $100 million deficit.  

“We’ve been told all year,” said McMahon. “‘We’re going to get to state and local governments. We understand that you’re big employers. We’re going to get there. We’re going to get there.’ We’ve waited. Now for us to kind of be taken off the table in negotiations is not the responsible thing to do.”

McMahon said he hopes the House of Representatives will stay firm in their funding for local governments during negotiations, but he doesn’t like his staff being used for bargaining. County employees are part of the team working to contain the coronavirus in Central New York Community.

While caseloads are on track to be the lowest they’ve been, testing is lagging...taking 5 to 7 days to return results. McMahon said the county is finding new partners and purchasing a rapid testing machine to deal with the delay.

“We’re beefing up. We’re getting ready for more students to come back. We’re getting ready for more people to go back to work,” said McMahon. “Related to school, for high school, elementary school, middle school. And we’re preparing for the flu season as well.”                      

Onondaga County is expecting to have schools open in the fall. The state requires that the infection rate must be below 5% by the beginning of August in order to open schools, and the local infection rate is currently just around 1%. McMahon said distance learning options will be available for parents who prefer to have their child at home.