Covid Cases in Onondaga County Jump to 34; New Concerns: Stigma & Returning College Students

Mar 21, 2020

Testing Site at Syracuse Community Health Center. Increased testing for coronavirus leading to surge in cases in the county; many more results expected in the next few days
Credit Scott Willis/WAER News.

Onondaga County saw a jump in thnumber of Covid 19 cases as the results of more and more tests come in.  County Executive Ryan McMahn announced at a Saturday briefing on the virus outbreak 21 new confirmed cases.  That brings the county total to 34 as of the 3:00 p.m. briefing.  He added 80 people are in quarantine, watching their symptoms.
(Watch Saturday Briefing Here)

McMahon emphasized that a number of the new cases are among those under 40.  He wants to dispel any thoughts that younger people are not subject to becoming infected.  To that end, McMahon referenced social media videos and ther reports of college students on spring break ignoring any rules of social distancing to keep the virus spread down.  He spoke to students will be coming back from spring break or home who live in off-campus housing at area colleges because online instruction for many will begin Monday.

“You have a time to redeem yourself now.  … We really need our colleges to watch these (students) in off-campus living.  For these college students, I would really recommend you go into a self-quarantine when you come back from spring break.  Let’s see how you’re doing, how you’re feeling.  Don’t be irresponsible. You were already irresponsible; don’t double down on that”

People of any age who are home monitoring symptoms are being asked not to go out for any reason.  The county has a hotline to help those home-bound with groceries and other needs: It’s 315-218-1987

GROWING HOSTILITY TOWARD THOSE WHO TEST POSITIVE

McMahon wants to blunt any bias or criticism aimed at those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

“We now have 34 people in our community (who tested positive); they’ve done nothing wrong. … The rumor mill is going to be flying about this; it’s already going on.  They’re our neighbors.  We need to help them get through this.  The number is going to increase.  You’re going to know people who are in a quarantine.  They (also) did nothing wrong.”

County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta updated conditions on two people who are in the hospital because of Covid 19.  One is in their 60s, while the other is in their 50s.  She says one is in critical condition and one in stable condition. 

Officials say hundreds of test results will be coming in over the next few days.  McMahon says there are enough testing kits at this time to handle everyone doctors deem need to be tested. 

STATEWIDE COVID 19 POLICIES CHANGE

Governor Cuomo at Saturday, Mar 21 Covid 19 briefing

The shut down of non-essential businesses continues to cover more and more establishments and their employees.  As of 8:00 pm Saturday all hair and nail salons, as well as tattoo parlors join the list of most other non-essential business closures. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo reported most hospitals will end elective surgeries this week.  That will increase by 50% the number of hospital beds that could be used to treat Covid 19 patients to 75,000. 

One member of the Governor’s staff has tested positive for the virus.  Cuomo said he did not need to be tested or be quarantined because he had no contact with the person or anyone else who is positive, and he has no symptoms.

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY UPDATES PROCEDURES FOR STAFF & STUDENTS

A scheduled move-out of most of the students who remained in campus housing was continuing through Sunday.  Cars could be seen lining some streets adjacent to residence halls Saturday afternoon.  Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie urged students staying in the area in off-campus housing to take necessary precautions.

“We encourage you to take very seriously your obligations to the Central New York community. Adhere to social distancing guidelines and hygiene protocols, and abide by local, state and federal public health laws and directives. This includes directives related to public gatherings. If you choose to remain in or return to off-campus housing, we expect you to support efforts to promote the health and safety of this community.”

The University is also offering assistance to faculty and staff to aid working from home and delivering class lessons in remote fashion. 
(Read Haynie’s entire message to staff and students here.  )