Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon agrees with the end of Governor Kathy Hochul’s statewide mask mandate. The decision will end the requirement for businesses to request proof of full vaccination or require the wearing of a mask in most indoor settings. McMahon sees it as a turning point in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People need to be comfortable with their own decisions, but many people have been vaccinated. They have been boosted. Community prevalence has become a really acceptable risk, and so we’re happy to see the mitigation movement,” McMahon said.
Over the past week, COVID cases in Onondaga County are down 32%, and McMahon adds that hospitalizations are down. Despite the declines, the county continues to struggle with loss of life. McMahon plans to rely on metrics for any future decisions and hopes the decline in cases will trickle down to hospitalizations.
“We see things changing in hospitalizations, and they will continue to slow because there is a ten-day lag essentially between the drop in cases and hospitalizations. On top of that, if we continue to drop to the levels where we are week over week with cases, we will probably be around 20 cases per 100,000 for our community next week, which is certainly a much better place than where we’ve been more the last six months.”
McMahon is asking for a metric to determine when mask mandates could be lifted in schools. Governor Hochul plans to make a decision on ending the school mask requirement in March. Masks are also still required in healthcare facilities, some types of shelters and on public transport. With the end of the term, McMahon shares, now is the time to move in the direction where people can start to make a choice.
“I think it’s all about hospitalizations. And we will continue to work closely with collective establishments and institutions for the elderly. These are our most vulnerable, and so we will continue to review mask mandates likely at these facilities. But compared to the rest of the general public, those numbers are getting closer to what’s an acceptable risk for us to live our lives.
The county will continue to offer testing locations and masks will be provided for those who still wish to wear them.