Onondaga County Exec: Entering Phase Two is important to economic and mental health


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said moving into Phase Two of restart was imperative not just for the economy, but mental health as well.

Heading into Thursday night, it was still unclear if the Central New York region was getting the go-ahead from New York State to enter the next phase.

This put many business owners on edge waiting for guidance and unable to attest to their business safety strategies with the state.

McMahon used the analogy of sausage-making to describe what happened: the process isn’t pretty and usually done behind the scenes but the end result is delicious. “What I think we just saw over the last 24 hours was a restart process that played out in the public. So it was confusing. It was, at times, draining, emotional…but at the end of the day everyone got the result that was necessary and warranted.”

McMahon said the stakes were high for this community. Entering Phase Two had a direct impact on the mental health of residents.

“Mental health is as big of a public health challenge as the actual infection spread,” said McMahon. “So when the data says go it’s a big deal for the community to go,” said McMahon.

McMahon said suicide rates and opioid use has been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. He said even the smallest thing like a haircut after having these liberties were taken away for the last 90 days can have a good impact on one’s mental health.

Phase Two is important for small businesses who don’t qualify for PPP or unemployment. They can now get back to work and make wages. “The last 24 hours has been all about them,” said McMahon.

While physical distancing, wearing masks and sanitization continue to be a part of everyday life, Phase Two will create more economic activity and is a step towards a new normal.

Moving forward, McMahon said the regional control group has discussed guidance with state representatives. It’s been agreed that communication moving into the next phases is key. He also said he’s advocating for certain business aspects to open sooner than Phase Three.

Support for mental health and more can be found by calling 2-1-1 or you can visit them online at 211CNY.com

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