Syracuse, N.Y. – Onondaga County has discovered 35 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, the highest in a month and the second highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
This brought the number of infections in progress to 296, the highest number recorded so far in the pandemic. The 35 new infections identified in one day were more than any other day outside of March 29, when 48 new cases were confirmed.
Many of these new infections involved people who had no symptoms, called asymptomatic cases.
“We knew there were more cases, and we find them,” said County Director Ryan McMahon, referring to more than 400 proactive tests done to date among vulnerable populations. Another 600 proactive tests are underway, and more are being planned.
Of the 35 new cases, 23 have been identified through proactive testing in senior communities, said McMahon. In comparison, only 12 were identified in the whole community.
Of the active cases, 65% are in institutions for the elderly and among the close contacts of people previously infected. These people are considered more likely than others to be infected, but they are also already in quarantine and under surveillance, said McMahon.
The county executive said it was not sure whether the problem was getting worse in retirement homes or that the county was finding the cases now through proactive testing. Either way, McMahon said, it is very difficult to contain such a powerful virus.
The fact that he remains active in senior citizens’ facilities could lead to other dark days to come.
Another person died of COVID-19 overnight, the 30th death so far in Onondaga County and the 29th death in 29 days this month. The latest victim was a woman in the 1980s, of a race other than white or black.
McMahon warned that more infections would be detected as testing intensified in seniors’ residences and in East Syracuse Walmart. These proactive tests detect the virus in people who do not have symptoms of illness.
“This is important because they can still make others sick,” said the county executive.
To make matters worse, the county is notified of new infections a few days before receiving any negative test results, said McMahon. This means that some days will see huge spikes in positives, while other days will see a large batch of negatives.
In addition, Walmart has so far not provided the total number of tests performed at the East Syracuse site with Quest Diagnostics. McMahon expressed frustration that the county does not know how many tests have been done at this site, as it is impossible to know the infection rates among those tested.
The county community triage site, which hosts average citizens with symptoms of COVID-19, has seen around 60 tests a day recently, said McMahon. About 7% of these tests returned positive, according to the data to date.
The 35 new infections overnight sent the total number since the start of the pandemic to 876. By subtracting the 30 deaths and 550 recoveries (up from seven overnight), leaving 296 infections in progress. This is the highest number of active infections to date: the record so far was 283 active infections on April 16.
McMahon noted that the spike in new cases is the result of increased testing in those who have no symptoms. It is expected that a large number of people will be removed after their recovery in the coming days, which should reduce the number of active cases, he added.
“We are in pretty good shape,” said McMahon of the figures, noting the overall decline in community spread of the virus.
There were 39 people in the hospital, two more than a day ago, while the number of people in critical condition remained at eight.
McMahon is still preparing for a May 15 restart, the earliest state-authorized date. He argued that finding new cases through proactive testing should not be a reason to delay reopening.
“You can’t blame us,” said McMahon, for the increase in the number of confirmed cases. Most of these cases involve people living in infected buildings, which means that they have already been isolated from the wider community, he said.
These clusters of infections pose a low risk to the general public, said McMahon. These are not people who are going to work, they are not people from the grocery store.
If finding more infections among vulnerable populations is a reason to delay the reopening, it will not prompt countries to do the necessary tests, he added.
Cases confirmed by sex and age:
- 494 are women and 382 are men
- 27 are under 19,
- 160 in their twenties,
- 116 in their thirties,
- 122 in quarantine,
- 145 in their fifties,
- 132 in their sixties,
- 82 in their 70s,
- 61 in their 80s,
- 31 in the 90s
Confirmed cases / recoveries by municipality:
- City of Syracuse – 403 cases in total, 225 people recovered, 178 active
- Clay – 84 cases in total, 63 recovered, 21 active
- Onondaga – 70 cases in total, 24 recovered, 46 active
- Manlius – 52 cases in total, 38 recovered, 14 active
- DeWitt – 45 cases in total, 29 recovered, 16 active
- Salina – 43 cases in total, 31 recovered, 12 active
- Camillus – 33 cases in total, 28 recovered, 5 active
- Cicero – 29 cases in total, 25 recovered, 4 active
- Geddes – 28 cases in total, 18 recovered, 10 active
- Lysander – 28 cases in total, 18 recovered, 10 active
- Pompey – 21 cases in total, 19 recovered, 2 active
- Skaneateles – 15 cases in total, 12 recovered, 3 active
- Van Buren – 6 cases in total, 2 recovered, 4 active
- Marcellus – 4 cases in total, 4 recovered, 0 active
- Otisco – 4 cases in total, 4 recovered, 0 active
- LaFayette – 3 cases in total, 2 recovered, 1 active
- Elbridge – 2 cases in total, 2 recovered, 0 active
- Fabius – 2 cases in total, 2 recovered, 0 active
- Spafford – 2 cases in total, 2 recovered, 0 active
- Tully – 2 cases in total, 2 recovered, 0 active
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Writer Douglass Dowty can be contacted at [email protected] or 315-470-6070.