Syracuse, N.Y. – Social distancing, it seems, works.
The spread of the new coronavirus locally and across the state appears to be stabilizing, although the number of deaths is slowly increasing.
Central New York has yet to see an increase in cases similar to the one that overwhelmed New York City, and the rate of new infections has remained essentially flat over the past week.
Onondaga County Director Ryan McMahon said the data he saw was promising. The curve of central New York flattens out. This gave him reason to hope.
“This is about hope this weekend,” said McMahon on Saturday. “We will get through it all, and we will certainly be much stronger when it is behind us. “
The number of active cases hovered around 275 most of this week. This means that the number of new cases every day is roughly equal to the number of people getting better.
There were 47 people from Onondaga County in the hospital on Saturday, a slight drop overnight. Of these, 23 people were in critical condition. A week ago, 17 people were in critical condition. A week ago, there were 7. The rate at which people get very sick then slowly increases.
The number of cases is generally positive. They reflect a much slower spread than what could have been the case all the time.
But this success is only the beginning. In order to keep the virus at bay, our lives may not return to normal for at least several months.
A slower rate of infection means that social distancing policies are working and fewer people are getting sick. But that does not mean that the virus is about to disappear. This means that we will have to keep doing it to reduce the numbers of viruses.
The current relaxation of social distancing policies could lead to a second spike in cases.
There will be no return to normal all at once. Businesses will reopen in stages, said McMahon, according to their ability to maintain social distance. It is not yet known if the schools will reopen before the fall.
And there is still a question mark around mass gathering events, even as far back as the New York State Fair, which begins in late August. McMahon said he hoped the fair would happen, but he just didn’t know it. Nobody does.
The state has canceled the regent exams scheduled for June. Syracuse University delayed start-up until the new carrier dome was completed in the fall.
In the meantime, new restrictions on social interactions are still being implemented.
McMahon closed the golf courses on Monday, just three days before the state did the same. He also instituted a voluntary home stay order that asked people to leave home only for shopping every other day.
New York City may have reached its peak this week, according to models shared this weekend by Governor Andrew Cuomo. But he is still not ready to speculate on the reopening of the state by May or even June. Nearly 800 people die from the virus every day in New York, mainly in the south of the state.
McMahon said he would like to see a drop in the number of people so sick that they qualify for a test. He thinks that if this statistic falls to a constantly low level, he could accept relaxed restrictions.
The decline has already started, he said, but the numbers must continue to fall. The county still confirms around 20 new cases a day and tests more than 200 people a day.
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