Under Siege: “Rona” and the Syracuse Black Community


When we look at Onondaga County COVID-19 Hospitalizations to date by Race; Black or African American are at 20.2% while making up 11.4 of the total population. That should come as no surprise as nationally, COVID-19 aka “Rona” has hit black and brown people disproportionately. Syracuse/Onondaga County is no exception. Working as a community to “bend the curve” we were successful in seemingly beating back the initial onslaught. Restrictions were eased, people began to relax their COVID-19 safety protocols. The result has begun to show up with steadily increasing numbers of those testing positive, for the ‘Rona virus.

In Syracuse, 45.6 % of those with confirmed cases are under the age of 29 years old. Our COVID-19 statistics were steady until late October when numbers began to creep up from 70 daily positive test reports, into the hundreds.

Orange Zone chart

There are zip codes in the city of Syracuse that have seen higher levels of those testing positive than adjacent geographic areas. 13210 which includes Syracuse University, has recorded 1,055 confirmed cases, while 13214 had a low number of 85.

13205 has been particularly hard hit with 705 confirmed cases and 506 recoveries, the Southside of Syracuse lost 199 people. 13204 was next with 641 confirmed cases, 486 recoveries, the Near Westside, Far Westside lost 155 people.

For several months Onondaga County has been aggressive about releasing information identifying where someone may have been exposed the COVID-19. It could be a convenience store, barber shop or big box store; the public was notified.  The list, updated daily included name of business, location and times where someone testing positive or actually suffering from the Coronavirus may have been working.

By late November, the rise in the number of community acquired and household contact COVID-19 levels made it impossible to provide detailed, location specific information. According to Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon, “Assume COVID-19 is everywhere”.

This past week, over a span of six days, Onondaga County reported a total of 26 deaths with 5 occurring Saturday December 5th

Micro-Cluster Strategy Yellow and Orange Zones

Parts of Onondaga County and our region

As testing increased, the State of New York imposed a Micro-Cluster strategy creating COVID-19 Focus Zones based on positivity rates in that geographic area.  The information is tabulated daily and there’s a 7-Day Rolling Average. Onondaga Yellow-zone focus area 6.00% positive and Onondaga Orange-zone focus area 6.27% positive.

A cursory review of retail institutions in the aforementioned zip codes show an absolute disregard for the Onondaga County Mask requirement. Not only were stores ignoring the requirement, customers of all ages, come and go without any protection from a pandemic that has claimed over 254 lives in Onondaga County. Out of 11,580 total cases there have been 9,261 recoveries. We now have 2,065 active cases.

Onondaga County has been aggressive in testing. As our number began to rise, the strategy became clear, test, test, test. The Onondaga County Health Department and others set up a variety of locations and methods to test as many people as possible. Those tests tell us how we are or aren’t containing COVID-19 in Onondaga County. So far, the results aren’t good as our 7-day running average has both of our Micro Zones at levels of 6%.  Ideally those numbers should be below 3% in order to see actual community containment, as opposed to our current “hot spots” that requires additional restrictions of indoor activities; such as dining, and the operation of Barber shops just to name a few impacted by the designation of Orange and Yellow Micro-Zones.

The purpose of this information, including the links below, is to emphasize how important it is to observe the health official’s warnings and directives regarding the “Rona”.  The information is so vast and voluminous I provided guidance as to how to find information for yourself. COVID-19 Testing, testing locations, dashboards, municipal and city data.

As we are rapidly testing these numbers change, in fact by the time this information is posted there will be an entire set of new statistics. The preliminary indication is that it will not be good news.

Onondaga County COVID-19 Testing: Tests Reported 12/2/20
  • Persons Tested 7,314
  • % Positive (Daily) 5.1%
  • % Positive (7 Day Rolling Average) 5.2%
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases to Date Data updated daily, last update: 12/4/2020
  • New Cases 257
  • Total Cases 11,580
  • Active Cases 2,065
  • Recovered Cases 9,261
  • Confirmed Cases 254
  • Presumed Deaths 5

Onondaga County maintains two COVID-19 Dashboards displaying cases by municipality and by ZIP code (within the city of Syracuse). 

These dashboards are accessible by clicking the buttons to the right. Please note the Syracuse ZIP code dashboard includes only cases that fall within the boundary of the City of Syracuse and do not reflect all cases within that zip code.

COVID-19 Testing

Anyone can now get tested for COVID-19. Call your primary care physician, search for a test site near you, or visit one of the test sites below.

See details for registration requirements.

Asymptomatic Testing – The Oncenter

NOTE: This registration is for asymptomatic people only. If you are a contact of a case and are under quarantine, you should NOT register for this Oncenter location–please register for one of the Symptomatic/Exposure testing options below or through your primary care doctor.
Onondaga County is now providing testing for residents who are asymptomatic and have not had direct exposure to a positive case. This testing is being held at the Oncenter Convention Center, 800 S. State Street, Syracuse. Enter at the corner of Montgomery and Harrison Streets. Please note that children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
Appointments are required, and please do not arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment time. Click here to register.

 Asymptomatic Testing – Community Locations

NOTE: This registration is for asymptomatic people only. If you are a contact of a case and are under quarantine, you should NOT register for these community locations–please register for one of the Symptomatic/Exposure testing options below or through your primary care doctor.
Onondaga County is now providing testing for residents who are asymptomatic and have not had direct exposure to a positive case. These community locations are available upon registration. Additional locations will be added. Please note that children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Appointments are required, and please do not arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment time. Click here to register.

Symptomatic/Exposure Testing

Testing is available through Cayuga Health for Onondaga County residents who are symptomatic or have had direct exposure to a positive case. Appointments are required, click here to register.

  • CNY Regional Market F-Shed, 2100 Park Street, Syracuse (please enter from NBT Bank Parkway)
  • Monday-Friday, 9am to 1pm
  • Please note that children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
  • Insurance information will be collected, but there will be no out of pocket costs
  • Results provided in 24-48 hours at mycayugahealth.cayugamed.org.
    -Click on the “Sign-Up” link and complete the enrollment information
    -When email confirmation is received (will be instant), create a login/password
    -Click on “Health Record” and then “Results”
    -If you need assistance with your account, please send an email to mycayugahealthsupport@cayugamed.org or call 607.319.5708

Symptomatic/Exposure Testing for K-12 Schools

Testing is available through Cayuga Health for K-12 students, teachers, and staff who are symptomatic or have had direct exposure to a positive case. Appointments are required, click here to register.

  • CNY Regional Market F-Shed, 2100 Park Street, Syracuse (please enter from NBT Bank Parkway)
  • Monday-Friday, 9am to 1pm
  • Please note that children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
  • Insurance information will be collected, but there will be no out of pocket costs
  • Results provided in 24-48 hours at mycayugahealth.cayugamed.org.
    -Click on the “Sign-Up” link and complete the enrollment information
    -When email confirmation is received (will be instant), create a login/password
    -Click on “Health Record” and then “Results”
    -If you need assistance with your account, please send an email to mycayugahealthsupport@cayugamed.org or call 607.319.5708

On-Site Proactive Testing for Schools

Onondaga County is offering on-site proactive asymptomatic testing to teachers and staff at school districts throughout Onondaga County. School districts will announce when testing is available at each school building.

  • This is pooled saliva testing. Testing is voluntary and there are no out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Pre-registration is required at suny-covid-test.com
  • Pooled results are provided to each building. Anyone part of a positive pool will require individual testing (the same specimen will be utilized and another test does not need to be performed). Insurance information is collected to pay for all necessary individual testing.
Syracuse Community Health Center Testing

Syracuse Community Health Center provides symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. Walk-up and drive-thru testing is available without an appointment at Syracuse Community Health Center, 819 South Salina Street in Syracuse, every Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm (closed 12-1 for lunch).