Syracuse, NY — Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said today he will not impose mandates such as wearing masks in public unless the number of Covid-19 cases increases significantly.
McMahon set a threshold of 70 new cases per day per 100,000 residents before considering the first tier of mandates, which is wearing masks and testing at large gatherings. Onondaga County now sits at about 52 cases per 100,000, well below that threshold.
“We would certainly start with large gatherings, either (vaccinations) or tests,” he said. “We’re going to test, just like we are doing now.”
New restrictions could also come into effect if hospitals become overwhelmed, he said. The county will meet with hospital officials next week to discuss what that threshold might be in light of Covid-19, a flu flare-up and pandemic-related staff shortages.
Erie County, the largest in Upstate New York, today began requiring everyone 2 years or older to wear masks in public places. McMahon noted that Erie has 68 cases per 100,000, just below his threshold.
Those numbers represent the average number of cases per day over the past seven days.
McMahon said he is reluctant to force a pandemic-weary public to undergo new restrictions unless necessary.
“We’ve been going for almost two years now and fatigue isn’t even the right word anymore,” he said. “Some people just tuned it and to re-engage these people we don’t have to be reactive or they’ll tune us in.”
McMahon noted that the daily number of Covid-19 hospitalizations peaked at more than 300 during the winter, about three times what it is now, but he doesn’t have a specific number in mind right now that would trigger new restrictions. He said hospitals are struggling with staff shortages, especially nurses, as many move to better jobs and others quit or get fired for failing to get vaccinated.
“We’ll think of some hospitalizations that will trigger potential mitigation,” he said. “This is about being able to treat all of our sick in the community.”
McMahon did offer some encouraging news about Covid-19 data. The number of people in the hospital “took a steep plunge” from 123 to 103, he said.
The province today confirmed 140 new cases, the lowest since Nov. 10. Onondaga County would need to have an average of 334 cases per day to meet the McMahon threshold of 70 daily cases per 100,000 people.
The county population was 476,516 in the 2020 census.
One Covid-19 patient died in the past 24 hours, McMahon said. That was a man in his seventies.
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