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County Focuses On Opening Schools, Universities As It Waits For Decision On Federal Aid

Onondaga County Executive's Office

Opening schools will come with risks, but Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon feels that the community is in the position to handle the coronavirus. The county’s infection rate has been below 1% for over a week now, and has dropped to around half a percent in the last few days.

McMahon says his staff has been working “overtime” with districts to create safe plans.

“There’s no 100% risk mitigation plan in anything,” said McMahon. “But the lower we can get things by wearing proper PPE, by sanitizing, by testing, that puts us in a better position than the already great position we are with .8 [percent] infection [rate].”   

He adds that the county is ready and willing to partner and support any district that wants to test its employees. The county is also a partner of Syracuse University, which is welcoming back thousands of students this month. McMahon says students who break their mandated quarantines will be fined.

“We’re going to be all over this,” said McMahon. “The University has done a nice job setting the tone. We’re going to set the tone. We’re going to have teams and they’re going to go and make sure that these kids are making good decisions.”

As the county continues to test, trace, and prepare for the upcoming school year, they’re also still waiting on word from Washington relating to the latest COVID-19 stimulus bill. McMahon says the White House proposed $150 billion  for state and local governments.

“Under 150 billion, if that’s the number, for the states and then the locals, we’ll get something,” said McMahon. “Maybe we don’t get cut as much at the State of New York. We will still need to restructure under that number. Restructure less probably, but if that number gets higher, you know, 250, 300, 400, maybe we can survive this thing.”

Federal representatives for the area have advocated for local government aid to help Onondaga County and Syracuse. McMahon said next week they’ll be focusing on what cuts need to be made in order to balance the county budget as they wait for a decision from Congress.