Onondaga County plans to get COVID-19 vaccine in the arms of college students

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County reported 92 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, almost half of them involving students at Syracuse University. 79% of new cases are among people under the age of 40.

Tuesday can’t come soon enough for Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. That’s the day New York State decided COVID-19 vaccines can be given to anyone, regardless of their age or occupation. (16 and up for Pfizer, 18 and up for Moderna and Johnson and Johnson).

McMahon wants to get vaccinations underway at area college campuses as soon as possible.

“We’re talking about probably redirecting some supply (of vaccine) to some of the dorms for potentially Tuesday,” McMahon said in his Thursday afternoon COVID-19 briefing, but added there are still some logistics issues including finding out how many vaccines the county will get from the state for next week. That information will arrive over the weekend.

“The cases in the community are in congregate settings that haven’t been vaccinated and that happens to be the dorms,” McMahon added.

Last week, McMahon said SU was in contact with the state about establishing a clinic on campus. We asked the university where that stands. A spokesman replied, ” The University has petitioned New York State to allow us to hold on-campus vaccination clinics to expedite the vaccination of our community, including students. We are currently awaiting a response from New York State. Until then, securing vaccination appointments through the state and county, combined with good public health behaviors, is the most immediate path to address our current situation.”

Phone bank for blind and visually impaired

Onondaga County will host a phone bank on Tuesday for blind and visually impaired residents. Call takers will help those individual make appointments for COVID-19 vaccination. The phone bank will run from noon to 4 p.m. and the number to call is 315-679-4099.

Vaccination rate approaching 50%

McMahon says the county is approaching to point where 170,000 people have received vaccine. That’s 37% of the total population and 47% of the adult population.

COVID Energy Surcharge going away this year

At the outset of the pandemic when sales tax revenues plummeted and New York planned big cuts in state aid, Onondaga County imposed a tax surcharge on utility bills to help the county make it through the cash crunch. That tax was set to expire in 2022.

An average Onondaga County home pays an electric and gas bill of about $150 each month, and the 4% tax adds about $6 based on projections from the legislature last month. That would give the county about $12 million each year. But because of the improving financial situation, McMahon shared at his state of the county Wednesday night that it’s going away sooner.

Watch Thursday’s briefing below:


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