News

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The New York State Legislature on Monday held the first of two hearings on the thousands of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents.

Questions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, focused on a controversial March 25 directive that required nursing homes to take back COVID-19 patients from hospitals.

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The Syracuse Common Council is holding its spending items until Mayor Ben Walsh comes up with a plan to fill the city’s $20 million budget gap. One councilor said the lack of a bailout from the state or federal governments, to make up for the revenue losses from the coronavirus shutdown, is expediting the need for action. 

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he will announce later this week on what terms schools can reopen during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But he put the responsibility for the details back on schools, saying they need to better respond to the concerns of parents. 

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Democratic and Republican state lawmakers grilled New York’s top health official Monday about the steep, though ultimately unknown death toll at the state’s nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the Democratic-led Legislature are holding hearings geared at understanding why and how the pandemic took root in New York nursing homes. Lawmakers, who plan to hold another hearing next Monday, said they want to pass better policies to protect nursing home residents and staffers if infections surge again.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — People who were sexually abused as children will have more time to file legal claims under a new state law against individuals and public and private institutions after concerns that the pandemic was keeping survivors from coming forward.

Advocates and survivors had been pressing for an extension of the Child Victims Act amid the shutdown and disruption caused by the virus, including the closure of courts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday he signed the latest extension of Aug. 14, 2021, for the legislation.

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Senate leaders and White House officials continue to negotiate the next coronavirus relief bill, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Schumer is calling on central New Yorkers to lobby for legislation that will include more money for schools.

Standing in front of Cazenovia High School Friday, Schumer said schools need the federal government to come through if they are expected to open up in any way, shape, or form come September. Cazenovia School District Superintendent Matt Reilly agreed, putting the cost of COVID at hundreds of thousands of dollars for his small district.

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State officials will spend this week reviewing school district plans for reopening this fall in the midst of a global pandemic. Most school districts in central New York have decided on a hybrid model that alternates in-person and remote learning.

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In the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as other instances of police brutality, sustained protests and movements for change in police policy have sprung up around the country, including central New York. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with Yusuf Abdul-Qadir,  one of the leaders of The People's Agenda for Policing, and the director of the CNY chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. 

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Central New Yorkers could be among the thousands of individuals who will be part of a clinical trial for a potential vaccine against COVID-19. There are currently two studies underway as scientists across the world look for a vaccine that could slow the progress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Upstate Medical University in Syracuse is taking part in one clinical trial spearheaded jointly by drugmaker Pfizer and a German biotech company. Upstate’s Infectious Disease Chief Dr. Stephen Thomas said this is a late-stage human trial that will ultimately include up to 30,000 participants.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The New York State Department of Transportation has submitted its draft environmental impact statement on the I-81 reconstruction project, through the city of Syracuse, to the Federal Highway Administration for review. It's a project state officials have been working on since 2013. The federal agency needs to sign off on the document, so it can be released to the public. 

Liam James Doyle / NPR

Join WRVO and NPR this morning as Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta holds a celebration of life for Rep. John Lewis. Live coverage hosted by Rachel Martin and Tonya Mosley will be available on-air and online at starting at 10:30 a.m.

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The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for those involved in the 2020 Census. The pandemic wreaked havoc on plans for the every-ten-year population count.

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School board members in New York are concerned that they might not be able to successfully fully or partially reopen schools without an infusion of cash from the state or federal governments.

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School districts across New York State have to submit their plans for reopening to the state Education Department by Friday. Central New York superintendents are explaining to school boards what a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning would look like.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has written a letter to New York’s congressional delegation, urging them not to settle for a federal stimulus package that does not include aid to states hard hit by the coronavirus.

The plea comes as talks between House Democrats and Senate Republicans in Washington are down to the wire.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Several police items will not be on the agenda for Wednesday’s Syracuse Common Council meeting, because one councilor blocked them in protest for not having Right to Know legislation come out of committee. Right to Know is a law passed in New York City, which requires police to identify themselves to citizens during certain interactions, provide a business card and obtain and record consent to searches. The Right to Know legislation is being held to allow lawyers to weigh in.

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Hospitals are getting better at treating the sickest COVID-19 patients, according to one central New York coronavirus expert. Dr. Stephen Thomas, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, said treatment for patients has gone through some changes over the last several months.

"The idea of 'when do you intubate people, do they get steroids, do they need antibiotics immediately or do they not, do they need to get anticoagulated'," Thomas said. "These sorts of things we’ve learned as we’ve gone along."

More than 2/3 of states now on NY's quarantine list

Jul 28, 2020
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People traveling to New York from more than two-thirds of the country will now have to quarantine for at least two weeks upon entering the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, after infection rates in three more states exceeded New York’s threshold.

A total of 34 states are now on New York’s quarantine list, meaning their infection rates are high enough that residents could pose a risk to New Yorkers upon entering the state.

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A recent report from the Government Accountability Office says that the International Joint Commission, the agency that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario, needs to do a better job of communicating with the public.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacted angrily Monday to news that a new plan to be released by Republicans in the U.S. Senate will not include aid to states and local governments hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Republicans, who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, are unlikely to propose additional money in their federal stimulus proposal for state and local governments suffering economic impact from the pandemic. 

Democrats, who are in charge in the House, want to include up to $1 trillion in aid.

Onondaga County Board of Elections

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s quest to keep voters safe from COVID-19 by letting them vote by mail in the June primary has led to big delays in tabulating results, concerns about disenfranchisement — and questions about whether there will be an even bigger mess in the fall.

Election officials say it will take them until early August to finish counting a tidal wave of absentee ballots that overwhelmed a system which typically handles only around 5% of the vote. About 1.8 million New Yorkers requested mail-in ballots for New York’s primary.

Onondaga County Health Department

There were 41 opioid-related deaths in Onondaga County in the first quarter of 2020, nearly one-third of the total amount of opioid deaths last year. That number has continued to rise over the past three years. Treatment providers say the COVID-19 pandemic is only making things worse.

Kathy Hochul / Twitter

State and federal officials are continuing to lobby for more money for child care in the federal COVID relief bill being negotiated in Congress. During a stop in Syracuse Friday, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said funding for child care is needed now more than ever.

Cuomo: Next two weeks will determine state budget cuts

Jul 26, 2020
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that, after several months of asking Congress for state aid, New York is now at the end of its rope and could be forced to make billions of dollars of cuts to its state budget if that funding doesn’t come through in the next two weeks.

Federal lawmakers are currently divided on whether to provide significant state aid in the next COVID-19 relief package, which could be approved in the next few weeks.

"If we don't get state aid from Washington, it's going to be a very bad situation for this state and the people of this state," Cuomo said.

Pat Bradley / WAMC

North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik has been a leading voice for Republicans in Congress, and gained a national profile for her defense of President Trump during impeachment hearings. This November, Stefanik is being challenged by Democrat Tedra Cobb, in a rematch from 2018. Cobb talks with Grant Reeher about her campaign, and why she should represent the North Country in Congress. 

Cuomo seeks retribution from feds over travel program debacle

Jul 24, 2020
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that New York is planning to seek damages from the Trump administration for blocking state residents from certain federal travel programs, saying the decision affected the state’s economy and worsened the spread of COVID-19.

Cuomo, at a press briefing in Albany, railed against a pair of Trump administration officials after the federal government dropped its defense of the decision this week.

"You can't play politics with government,” Cuomo said. “It is illegal, what they did,"

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Philipe Rivera goes by "Flip." He's 34 years old and has cerebral palsy. He has a tattoo on his arm, uses a wheelchair, and communicates through a device called a DynaVox.

"I also use a head pointer for my personal PC," Rivera said. "I cannot use my hands. I rely on people to help me with getting dressed, feeding, bathing, etc."

canceltherents.org

New York State is offering a rent relief program to low-income renters who lost income during the COVID-19 crisis. But some local activists say that’s still not good enough and they’re calling for New York to cancel rent payments for the entirety of the pandemic.

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Pediatricians across central New York are fighting to survive as the coronavirus pandemic has created a financially untenable situation for many.

East Syracuse pediatrician Dr. Vito Losito says it’s plain and simple, the infrastructure for pediatric care is crumbling.

"I want the government to know, I want the insurance companies to know, I want the public to know that the pediatric infrastructure, the people who care for your children are struggling to stay afloat, stay available, and we need help." Losito said.

New York Farm Bureau: ‘No farm untouched by pandemic’

Jul 23, 2020
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65% of farmers in New York state say their business has been negatively or very negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to the New York Farm Bureau, which conducted an informal survey of more than 500 of its members.

Bureau President David Fisher said in a virtual news conference that 43% of farms have lost sales during the pandemic.

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