Onondaga Co. mandates masks in assisted living, nursing homes; won’t implement county-wide mandate

Local News

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon gave a press briefing on Monday afternoon, and announced the county will mandate mask-wearing in assisted/independent living facilities and nursing homes as COVID cases rise. 

However, he will not follow to CDC recommendation to mandate indoor mask wearing across the board. He said the county has only been in the zone for about 25 hours and wants to wait and see what the next weeks brings before making any decision.

“You need to do what you’re comfortable with, if you are vaccinated but you still want to wear a mask, good you should, if you’re vaccinated and you don’t at the time, we’re not mandating that you have to, but certainly we strongly, strongly recommend for seniors and immunocompromised that if you’re going to be indoors you should be masked,” McMahon said.

McMahon stressed the importance of mask-wearing and getting vaccines as the Delta variant of the coronavirus infects more Onondaga County residents by the day. 

There were 51 new cases in Onondaga County on Saturday, 62 on Sunday, and 36 on Monday. McMahon cited household transmissions as the key problem causing the spread. 

The County Executive also mentioned a lack of public cooperation in case investigations and made it clear that there could be “financial penalties” if it continues. This can take the form of failing to inform the health department of infections, which he says is becoming common in the community. 

Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Indu Gupta also spoke about the Delta variant, saying it is highly contagious and the vaccine is the strongest tool against it. She went on to point out that the vaccine has caused a sharp decrease in hospitalizations and deaths from the virus. 

When asked about what parents should do for children, Dr. Gupta said since children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, masks are their only barrier to getting infected. 

“Why would you want COVID to come through your body? You don’t know how it’s going to affect each child,” Gupta said, mentioning that long-term effects can vary and include long-term fatigue and depression. 

As for concerns about schools returning in September, McMahon said staff and students will all be tested upon their return to school, and it is especially important to keep kids masked in school to avoid transmission into the home from school.

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