SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – COVID-19 infections are on the rise in nursing homes and senior care centers across Onondaga County.

In his COVID briefing on Tuesday, County Executive Ryan McMahon confirmed, at last check, 83 people have tested positive for coronavirus in facilities across the county. That’s the highest number of infections recently reported among the most vulnerable.

Overall, there’s been a slight decline in COVID cases across the county, but these recent infections are something McMahon says we need to keep an eye on.

“That’s the highest number of senior facility cases we’ve seen week over week in a period of time.”

ryan mcmahon, onondaga county executive

NewsChannel 9 reached out to Onondaga County nursing homes and senior care facilities to see if they have any confirmed cases.

Loretto, one of the largest facilities in the region, has 28 residents that are currently infected. You can read their full statement below.

We reopened our dedicated COVID unit two weeks ago as a response to hospital requests and have successfully cared for several patients who have now recovered. We are currently safely caring for 38 patients in that unit, 28 are residents from across the system and other 10 are discharges from local hospitals. We have adequate supplies of PPE to protect our staff and residents, and have strict protocols in place for any visitors, but we ask people to please refrain from visiting a loved one in our facilities if they have had a potential exposure to someone with COVID or if they are not feeling well. We also strongly encourage our community to get the vaccine or the booster shot to ensure the safety of our residents, staff and the entire community. 

Loretto: Statement

Bishop Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse says 16 of its residents are being treated within their designated COVID-19 unit. That’s on top of the patients coming to the unit from area hospitals and other assisted and senior care facilities.

Bishop Rehabilitation and Nursing Center continues to be proactive in the fight against Covid‐19. As such, in December we took measures to assist local hospitals and health care providers by opening a 35‐bed Covid‐only unit. This action mirrors that taken in April of 2020 when we admitted more than 65 Covid‐positive patients to a designated unit to lighten the burden on hospitals and assist with the reopening of Central New York’s economy.

As always, all precautions are followed including designated teams working exclusively on the Covid‐only unit. Our policies and infection control procedures are consistent with current state, federal and CDC guidance, and we’re happy to be able to assist the community in this manner once again.

Many of the residents admitted to the specialized Covid unit come from area hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living settings, as needed. While at Bishop, patients have access to monoclonal antibody therapy designed for high‐risk individuals with mild to moderate symptoms who are at risk for progression to severe illness. The antibodies are designed to mimic those created by the body’s immune system to ward off the virus and fight infection.

The facility has been proactive in its recruiting and is currently operating at adequate staffing levels. In addition, 100 percent of Bishop’s employees are vaccinated and 91 percent of the residents are vaccinated.

Bishop Rehabilitation and Nursing: Statement

“One is a bad number. 83 is a really bad number and we’re keeping a close eye on nursing home cases.”

state senator rachel may, (d) 53rd district

According to McMahon, to help find pockets of the virus, 35,000 at-home rapid tests are being distributed to Onondaga County nursing homes and senior care facilities this week.

Senator May, chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, says facilities need to monitor visits from loved ones.

I think we have to let nursing homes have some discretion in this area. If they have a real outbreak in one nursing home, then they need to do whatever they need to do to make sure it doesn’t spread. We know that visitation is really important. I worked on it incredibly hard last year and we did make a lot of changes, but even those changes were predicated on also the virus being somewhat under control. Right now, we don’t have that control so for a short period of time, I think we still have to make sure that we’re not having large number of people come into the nursing homes.

STATE SENATOR RACHEL MAY, (D) 53RD DISTRICT

Senator May also tells NewsChannel 9 she and other members of the NYS Health Committee recently spoke with the State Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Basset, to discuss additional safety measures for nursing homes and senior care facilities.