Onondaga County Health Commissioner shares a story illustrating how easy and innocently COVID-19 can be spread


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta shared a story how one man’s unintentional spread of coronavirus impacts so many.

The story is fictional but blends several instances of the real positive cases in Onondaga County that the Health Department has had to investigate.

She begins, “The nights are cold. The snow is all gone, but the trees are still bare. An old couple sits across from each other at the dinner table at their home.”

The husband has hardly touched his food. His wife asks him what is wrong and he replies that he is not feeling well. He jokes about her cooking and says maybe it’s her cooking but he can’t smell or taste any of it. He hadn’t been feeling well for the past day or two with chills, aches, and trouble breathing. He goes to bed, but has trouble sleeping all night.

The next morning he has to be transported to the hospital and placed in the ICU. A few days later, his wife of 41 years started to have symptoms and had to be placed in the hospital.

Just a few days earlier, their eldest son had visited his parents like he so often did. He wasn’t feeling well at the time but blamed the long hours in the office and claimed it was just a cold.

Even though the son did not feel well, he continued to go to work during the week and socialize on the weekend at a potluck dinner.

As he was recovering, his wife started to get ill. Coworkers started to call out of work sick and friends from the potluck dinner were starting to have symptoms.

After the son learned more about the coronavirus, he decided to call his doctor even though his symptoms had cleared. His doctor ordered him to be tested and the results came back positive.

But by then he had already exposed so many people to the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus.

This, Dr. Gupta said, is a snapshot of what has happened in our community.

Because one person could spread this illness to so many others, Dr. Gupta thanked those who remain in isolation or quarantine to stop the spread. “Every data point is a person. We should never forget that,” she said. “These individuals have stopped the path of the virus. Their selfless act of giving up personal freedom saved others.”

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, there are 7 deaths in Onondaga County from COVID-19. There is a total of 442 cases, with 43 hospitalized and 23 patients in the ICU.

154 people have recovered.

McMahon emphasized the importance of Dr. Gupta’s story and explained Central New York is at a critical junction in time. Continuing to social distance and stay home could put the region on a trajectory towards recovery.

Important Contacts

315-464-3979 Upstate Triage 24-Hour Hotline | For anyone who does not have a primary care provider or anyone with questions

315-218-1987 Senior Health Hotline | For anyone who needs food assistance

315-446-1220 Child Care Solutions | Daycare needs for essential workers provided free of charge

315-428-2229 VolunteerCNY | For anyone who is looking to volunteer

211 211CNY | Connection to resources in Central New York, including mental health resources

EMWeb01@ongov.net or 315-435-2525 | PPE donations like gloves, medical-grade masks, gowns, etc.

Ongov.net/MedicalVolunteers | Medical Volunteer Signup

315-435-3219 Veterans’ Needs

315-468-3260 Vera House | Report domestic abuse

315-701-2985 McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center | To report child abuse

OnGovEd.com Onondaga County Office of Economic Development | List of companies currently hiring

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