It has become abundantly clear that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. Whispers and subtle warnings began back in January as news spread that a strange flu like virus was impacting China. And yet, our own government in Washington appeared to dismiss the warnings and business continued as usual.
As the disease spread public health officials sounded the alarm, as COVID-19 jumped boarders, other nations began to see the numbers of people infected with the virus explode.
Fortunately, in absence of leadership from our Federal Government, local leaders have stepped in to fill the void.
Since the escalation of coronavirus, state and local government have been monitoring, planning and acting.
The governor has been proactive in keeping New York safe. We have labs ready to test, we needed the Federal governments approval to use them. That approval came late last week.
As the pandemic came closer to home; Mayor Ben Walsh, Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II and public health officials began holding press conferences, detailing efforts in Onondaga County.
On March 12th J. Ryan McMahon began daily briefings in an effort to keep the community informed in an atmosphere that required the dissemination of information by local officials.
By March 14th it became apparent that this fight against COVID-19 has come to our county, city, neighborhood and homes.
In a series of Executive Orders, Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II declared a State of Emergency designed to manage as much of this pandemic as possible by closing all Onondaga County schools, in part the order reads, “Effective on Friday March 20, 2020 at 4 p.m. through the end of the day Monday April 13th 2020 all public and private schools will be closed”
A separate order was in effect for after school activities, “Effective immediately through the end of the day on Monday April 13th there shall be no after school activities for any public and private schools in Onondaga County”
Colleges and universities in the region have acted, Syracuse University, LeMoyne College, Onondaga Community College, Cornell University, Ithaca College; the entire SUNY system, closed. Students in higher education institutions are switching to online learning. Syracuse University students are on hiatus until the end of March. While Cornell University has shut down their campus learning for the remainder of the semester.
You’d have to be residing under a rock not to see the overwhelming coverage this pandemic has received.
The tipping point for many people came when the NCAA canceled March Madness, and the NBA suspended their season when players began testing positive for the virus.
The result was a run on items at the grocery store, products like hand sanitizer Purell, became a highly valued product. New York State’s Attorney General issued a statement that “price gouging” will not be tolerated as reports of $75 hand sanitizers being sold online hit the news. As stores have been wiped out of hand sanitizers, New York State began making its own, to be distributed to the general public.
The Syracuse Community Health Center will become a site where people without insurance can get tested for COVID-19. More tests are becoming available, and at some point, there will be the discovery of a local person who’s contracted coronavirus. It’s not a question of if, but when.
This is not a hoax, this is real. Our local officials are our front line for information and guidance. We are lucky to have J. Ryan McMahon II, our local leadership and health care professionals taking steps designed to keep us safe.