Onondaga County lost another 12 residents to COVID-19 Sunday into Monday, continuing what County Executive Ryan McMahon calls a very tough, unbearable month. Sixty-nine residents have died in just the last week. The county’s infection rate also jumped from 5.5 percent to 6.1 percent, which McMahon attributes to fewer tests of asymptomatic residents over the weekend.
"Whenever you're testing essentially the victims of this virus, you're going to have higher rates than the actual positivity rate in the community. We'll see where we are after 2, 3, 4, 5 days this week. Maybe by the end of the week, we'll start to see some trends related to what the Christmas holiday brought us. But we have been trending in the right direction going into it."
McMahon says we’re coming off two consecutive weeks of lower caseloads, and he hopes it continues. Hospital capacity remains stable, with no major fluctuations in recent days. McMahon says a plan to ease pressure on hospitals is ready to kick in. He says Loretto’s transitional unit will accept 19 hospitalized nursing home patients from Onondaga County in the next day or so.
"There will be other residents from other counties that are in our hospitals, so it will be a regional asset. These are folks who can't go back to their [residential facility] because they haven't been tested negative for COVID yet. They'll go to this transitional facility, much like their home."
Meanwhile, vaccines will continue for high-risk hospital workers, federally qualified heath center employees, EMS personnel, among others. Priority populations expanding this week to include urgent care center employees, and COVID-19 vaccine administrators. McMahon knows the rest of the public is anxious and eager.
"We're going to be vaccinating people at least until June, if we're lucky. Maybe even July, August, or even longer. It's going to be a process. We'll communicate with everyone when its their turn, work on pre-registration, where they should get vaccinated. I know people are anxious. I'm getting emails everyday."
Until then, the county continues to screen its population for the disease in hopes of controlling the spread. For those with symptoms, the F-shed at the Regional Market is taking appointments through Thursday morning. Asymptomatic residents can get tested at the Oncenter, and at community locations. Tuesday's test sites include the Northeast Community Center on Hawley Ave, the LaFayette Community Center, and Shove Park in Camillus. Registration is at ongov.net.