SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is in regular communication with New York State officials about the orange zone restrictions that were just announced.
The state placed much of the City of Syracuse, as well as parts of DeWitt, Lyncourt, and Solvay in the microcluster orange zone based on data of positive COVID-19 infection rates.
Most of the areas in the city were already under yellow zone restrictions.
Walsh tells NewsChannel 9 one of the key focus areas is keeping schools open.
“We know that’s not where we’re having issues of spread. We know especially in the city where we have kids coming from very difficult environments that having them in school is what’s best for them both their health and their education,” he says.
The state’s microcluster strategy goes yellow — least restrictive — orange — more restrictions — and red — the most restrictive.
Orange zone status automatically calls for schools in these areas to be closed for in-person instruction for at least four days to allow for cleaning and testing of all students and staff.
The Syracuse City School District was already testing up to 25% of students and staff because they were under the yellow zone restrictions for the past two weeks.
Walsh says he’s also talking with the state about keeping non-essential businesses like salons, barbershops and gyms open in the orange zone, which per state rules automatically have to close.
He says data has not shown spread at these businesses in Syracuse.
“They understandably have concerns because they are still places where you do have some level of gathering. So, I expect that conversation to continue, I’ll continue to raise it,” Walsh tells NewsChannel 9.
He adds that the state is listening and acknowledges his concerns, though it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make changes, despite a second blow for many businesses already shut down once by the pandemic.
“It is truly a tragedy and we’re doing everything we can to help keep people’s heads above water as we get through the last of this terrible crisis but again, for some it’s not going to be enough and that weighs heavily on me,” Walsh says.