Oneida Shores and Rosamond Gifford Zoo to Have Limited Reopening Saturday; More Testing Sites

May 20, 2020

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon delivers his daily briefing Wednesday at the Oncenter. Until now, WAER News has covered these updates virtually in the interest of staff safety. This was the first one we attended in person since the pandemic began.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Central New Yorkers looking to get out and do something after being stuck at home will have some options this holiday weekend.  For those yearning for the beach and a swim during the nice weather, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says Oneida Shores will open starting this Saturday.  But he says to be prepared for some changes.

"Capacity is limited to 150 people.  The beach is 45,000 square feet.  Normal capacity would be 350 people.  The deepwater section of the beach will be closed."

McMahon says they’re still working on a reopening plan for Jamesville Beach.  The Rosamond Gifford Zoo will also reopen Saturday at 10 a.m., with numerous safety protocols.  McMahon says reservations must be made online starting Friday at 9 a.m. at Onondaga county 

"Admission will be in 30 minute increments.  There will be no more than 500 tickets sold per day at the zoo.  We will have staff at the indoor exhibits closely monitoring physical distancing.  There will be no food service.  Our guest flow will be one directional.  All guests will be required to wear masks.  Temperature checks will be conducted on arrival."

McMahon says drinking fountains will be closed, but there will be bottle filling stations.  The gift shop will also be closed.  Regular admission prices will apply at all reopened venues.  Some county libraries will reopen Tuesday, again by reservation only via website or phone. 

Reporters are physically distanced, and most wore masks.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to take a toll on the community with another two fatalities.  That brings the total to 107.  The number of hospitalizations due to the virus is at 78, the highest ever.  But McMahon says half of them are well enough to be discharged.  They’re nursing home residents, and they can’t go home due to a state mandate that they test negative.  That can take weeks.  McMahon says this skews the county’s numbers

"When you have 39 people that can be discharged from the hospital today but they aren't because of the executive order, we have to figure a way around that.  These 39 people can't be counted in our hospitalization numbers.  Nor, should they be in the hosptial at this point.  They don't need that level of care."

McMahon says they’re discussing the issue with the state. The county continues its proactive testing.  Nearly 1,500 tests were sent to labs Tuesday.  He says 80 percent are asymptomatic, so that’s bringing down the infection rate from more than 8 percent at the peak to about six percent so far this week. 

The county is bringing two mobile testing sites to the north side:

  • Thursday, May 21: Pastime Athletic Club, 1314 N. Salina St.  9-5
  • Friday, May 22:  Dr. Weeks Elementary,  710 Hawley Ave. 9-5

You can make an appointment here.  But both sites will take walk-ups.

Universal testing is also being conducted at Syracuse Community Health Center 819 S. Salina St.

Next week, the county will bring mobile testing to Lafayette before moving to the northern suburbs.