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Onondaga County’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations jump as it turns to Manley Field House for extra capacity

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

Date:

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says Syracuse University has agreed to allow the use of Manley Field House for a surge site for extra hospital-bed capacity, if needed for coronavirus patients. McMahon also said the county now has 111 cases of COVID-19, up from 81 on Wednesday. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Onondaga County on Thursday reported that its number of coronavirus cases rose to 111 from 81 the day before, and those hospitalized with the illness increased to 16 from 10 Wednesday.

The county’s top official also revealed a location that will be used as a surge site if extra hospital beds are needed in the community.

In his daily briefing at the Oncenter, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon told reporters that Syracuse University has agreed to allow use of Manley Field House for local surge site to provide additional bed capacity.

Of the county’s 16 people hospitalized with the virus, four patients are in critical condition, up from three a day before, according to McMahon. One person in the county died Tuesday.

Here’s Onondaga County’s current COVID-19 case count (the change from Wednesday’s numbers is in parentheses).

  • Syracuse – 36 (up 9)
  • Salina – 11 (up 2)
  • Clay – 16 (up 7)  
  • Cicero – 12 (up 6)
  • Onondaga – 6 (up 1)
  • Camillus – 5
  • Manlius – 6 (up 1)
  • Skaneateles – 4 (up 1)
  • Lysander – 3
  • Pompey – 4
  • DeWitt – 4 (up 3)
  • Geddes – 1
  • LaFayette –1
  • Spafford – 1
  • Van Buren – 1

McMahon said the 30 additional COVID-19 infections reported Thursday came after the county received an onslaught of test results in one day, 675 to be exact. The county now has more than 400 people in mandatory isolation and quarantine.

Manley Field House as surge site

“We will have a surge site, if necessary. We hope we don’t ever have to have that surge site,” said McMahon.

Once a site is secured, a build out will be required and Manley Field House gives Onondaga County “a lot of flexibility” to increase capacity as needed, he added.

McMahon says the venue has good ventilation, and “you can get a lot of beds in there.” Any buildout would require some improvements, depending on the needs of a given hospital. The Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management is working on that issue, he noted.

Area hospitals earlier in the week submitted their required plans for at least 50-percent expanded capacity to the New York State Department of Health. With those submissions, Onondaga County now has an idea of what those plans look like and started to finalize the location of the county’s surge site. The county will also begin planning for additional surge sites, if needed.

The issue of hospital capacity, both for beds and ventilators, is taking on increasing importance across the state with each passing day.

On Thursday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the first time publicly floated the idea that upstate hospitals could be used to treat COVID-19 patients from the New York City area, which has about 95 percent of the state’s coronavirus infections.

“We’re also working on equalizing and distributing the load of patients. Right now, the number of cases is highest in downstate New York. So we’re working on a collaboration where we distribute the load between downstate hospitals and upstate hospitals. And we’re also working on increasing the capacity for upstate hospitals,” Cuomo said in his daily COVID-19 briefing in Albany.