County workers take on new challenges to help combat COVID-19


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Asymptomatic testing at the Oncenter continued on Thursday.
Managing the operation? A dietician.

Marie Mahar makes her rounds checking on all the employees doing testing and sanitizing. Before COVID-19, Mahar was working in senior services for the county. She organized items like partnering with meals on wheels to get seniors the food they need.

Obviously, that all changed with the pandemic. During the spring, she was tasked with organizing meals for front line workers and for seniors who had to stay home to stay safe.

As we have made our way into the fall, she was approached to do a much bigger, and much more unfamiliar task: Run a testing site.

Her familiarity with the staff and can-do attitude made her an obvious choice. The County Executive’s Office has trusted her to make it happen. So far, things have been smooth.

“I look at a problem and go for it. There is no problem that I think is unsolvable,” she said. “There’s always a solution and I want to be part of the group that helps solve this problem in our community cause I want things to get back to the way they were before.”

It’s a difficult job. More than 400 tests are done at the Oncenter each day. It takes a great deal of coordination.

What might be the most difficult part of Mahar’s new duties is delivering news of a positive test. She is the one who has to break the news to patients.

“It’s not only scary, but it makes me feel bad,” she said. “Especially when it is a young adult or a senior. I can just feel for them because you can see the fright in their eyes and it must be a scary feeling to know you have this virus.”

Tests will be conducted at The Oncenter, which is located at 800 S State St. in Syracuse. It will continue through the weekend. You will need an appointment.

The entrance will be at the corner of Montgomery and Harrison. The county is asking that you do not arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment time.

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