Onondaga County COVID-19 Infection Rate Stays Low, But Budget Still In Crisis
Onondaga County is trying to keep the number of COVID-19 cases low as college students return to campuses and school children prepare to head back to the classroom. There were only a handful of cases since Sunday, continuing the community’s very low infection rate.
County Executive Ryan McMahon says everyone’s collective efforts have made the region very safe.
“If you think about a bubble within our own community, the infection rate is so low that people want to come into the bubble. When you look at kids coming back from SU, what do we do? We test them coming in. We know that they are negative coming in. We test them again,” said McMahon.
“And then what do we do to mitigate the risk of Covid from a .8 starting point? We wear masks. We sanitize. We physically distance. We test, and then we trace when we find it. And it’s working.”
And, he says it’s working as the economy has reopened. Plus, there are other risk factors such as travel.
“We heard the Governor talk about and implement various policies with quarantines from outside of the community coming in. Or if you’re going outside of the community and you come home,” said McMahon. “Within all that, we’ve had cases. And we’ve absorbed that. And it hasn’t pushed our infection rate to a higher point than we already were.”
McMahon says the number of hospitalizations and active cases is about where it was on March 26th, just 10 days after the county’s first case and when the virus was starting to move fast.
Meanwhile, as the infection rate declines, the county’s budget deficit is skyrocketing. They’ve already cut spending lines related to early retirement incentives, holding vacant positions, and part time jobs. McMahon says they’ve simply run out of time.
“Now it’s at a point where if we don’t get help that’s not enough,” said McMahon. “So later on this month I’ll be asking the Legislature to give us flexibility relating to cutting workforce hours. If we don’t need to cut those workforce hours, that’s fine. But we’re going to be asking the legislature for that approval, so that we have the ability to move in real time.”
On top of that, he says the state is also considering its own mid-year budget cuts.