“Not an emergency:” Onondaga Co. Executive to bring back COVID-19 testing, but not yet mask-wearing

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Nearly one month after ending his regular coronavirus briefings, the Onondaga County Executive says the amount of anxiety in the community about the COVID-19 Delta variant required him to return to his podium.

“We know what an emergency looks like. Trust me. I know what an emergency feels like. This is not an emergency.”

Onondaga COUNTY executive ryan mcmahon

McMahon announced Wednesday that Onondaga County will remobilize its rapid testing units and dispatch them out into different communities next week. Times and locations have not yet been decided. There is also a testing plan for nursing homes and other facilities.

“In protecting the vulnerable, we’ll work with nursing homes and assisted living facilities to make sure their employees are being tested and we’ll help provide those tests to them.”

McMahon said he expects employees at those facilities will volunteer to be tested, if it does not become voluntary, the county can issue an executive order to make it mandatory.

He also committed to offering “back to school” testing next month before teachers and students go back to their classrooms.

“We will do back to school testing for faculty and all the districts just like we did last year so that we can try to find any pockets of the virus within staff. But as important we will have robust testing and screening in schools. I think that’s really important and we have received federal funding through the state of New York for that program,” McMahon said.

There is no vaccine requirement as of now for Onondaga County workers. County leaders are working with its labor unions to figure out the best way to get more government workers vaccinated. McMahon said he didn’t have data, but will push to get people vaccinated or offer regular testing option instead.

Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was requiring all patient-facing hospital workers to get vaccinated, without a testing opt-out option. Other state workers would be able to choose testing instead.

McMahon said, based on the CDC’s own guidance, it’s too soon for him to ask vaccinated people to wear masks again, referring to CDC decision this week to suggest it for areas of high transmission. Most of New York State did not meet the threshold.

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