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Politics & Government

County Exec. McMahon Testifies Before House Committee About Vaccination Woes, Schools, Mental Health

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Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon was on a virtual national stage Wednesday when he testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security.  He urged Congress to allow local governments to make the rules on how to vaccinate their communities.

"We put together these plans, we were ready for this process.  To date, we feel we've been underutilized.  We know the supply is an issue, and we know it's getting better.  Specifically, to intentionally get to the hard-to-reach communities, our New American communities, our minority communities...nobody is better equipped to do that than county government." 

Ranking committee member John Katko backed up McMahon.  He invited him to testify. 

"They should have more discretion instead of being held to the whims of a governor or legislature that may not be as competent at doing that."

McMahon was asked by another committee member how the county is working to keep students attending local colleges and public schools.  He says asymptomic testing has kept infection rates far below the rest of the community, and some districts can accommodate in person learning five days a week.  But McMahon says it’s critical that federal and state governments open all schools five days a week.

"We know our children are falling behind.  We know that we have rising cases of child abuse.  Our eyes and ears on our children are our educators day in and day out.  We need them in the game."

McMahon told the committee that people of all ages in Onondaga County are suffering in different ways due to COVID restrictions. 

"It is becoming clearer and clearer every day, the crisis of mental health.  Opioid overdoses, where we've seen increases of 40 to potentially as high as 70 percent in our county."

The county executive wants life to return to normal in Central New York, but only in a safe, yet manageable way.