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Rep. John Katko was last on the Campbell Conversations in May, to discuss the response to the coronavirus pandemic. He joins Grant Reeher this week to further discuss the pandemic, President Trump's leadership during the crisis, the 2020 election, and more. 

Cuomo: Bowling alleys can reopen, gyms to receive guidance

22 hours ago
governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Bowling alleys will be allowed to reopen statewide on Monday, with special precautions, while gyms and fitness centers will finally be issued protocols and guidance for how to bring guests back to their facilities, and when that could happen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Shinichi Sugiyama / Flickr

Today is the deadline for New York schools to submit their plans for in-person instruction this fall to the state. Overall, most school districts in central and northern New York are planning to move forward with a hybrid system that offers students an opportunity for in-person learning two days per week with remote instruction for the remainder.

WXXI News (file photo)

I-81 project director Mark Frechette said at $1.9 billion, the redesign of I-81 will be one of the largest projects New York's Department of Transportation has undertaken.

"It touches over 50 bridges - some are removed, some are replaced, some are rehabilitated, they expand the interstate; there's over seven miles of reconstruction work on Interstate 81, Interstate 690, and Interstate 481; plus highway expansion and rehabilitation work," Frechette said. "The workforce necessary is significant."

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The rate of transmission of the coronavirus in New York state remains low, and all regions of the state have been in the final phase of reopening for at least a month.

But some industries have been left out of those plans and remain closed. Owners of gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor-based businesses held a news conference to ask why they aren’t allowed to reopen.

Meanwhile, 1,500 gyms in New York have filed a class-action lawsuit demanding that the state offer a reopening plan. 

NYS Department of Labor

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s labor commissioner says the state is ready to rapidly ramp up its unemployment system again in case the pandemic surges and the economy must shutter once again.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and efforts to reduce its spread by closing businesses in New York City and state forced millions out of work. The state had an unemployment rate of 15.7% in June, up from 3.9% a year earlier.

WRVO News (file photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — New York officials are challenging a federal judge’s ruling in favor of two couples who wanted to have more than 50 people at their weddings despite the state’s pandemic-related restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby issued a preliminary injunction Friday that allowed a western New York golf club to accommodate more than 50 people for the weddings, though the venue has to operate under the same 50% capacity rule as restaurants serving dinner indoors.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Onondaga County Board of Elections expects a large amount of voters will apply for absentee ballots for the general election. Mail-in voting made up about 65% of the total vote for the June primary in the county. That’s about 10 times the amount of absentee ballots they would normally receive. And it was the largest turnout for a primary the county has on record. But election commissioners do have concerns.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Onondaga County has completed another extension of the Loop the Lake Trail along Onondaga Lake, 1.1 miles in length, and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said it's needed now more than ever.

"When you think about what we're going through as a community right now and what we've done to get ourselves through this pandemic from a mental health standpoint, I can tell you our park system and this trail specifically has never been busier," McMahon said.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Family members of nursing home residents, testifying at a legislative hearing this week, told harrowing tales of neglect and unresponsive staff and administrators while the COVID-19 pandemic raged in New York this spring. 

Virginia Wilson-Butler said her aunt Eva Johnson’s care in a Brooklyn nursing home was substandard even before the pandemic, with staff not available to feed her or change a soiled bed.  

Byrne Dairy

Byrne will become the first dairy in central New York to package milk in aseptic packaging.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

Many cities in upstate New York and across the country are struggling to balance their budgets in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, but the city of Oswego's mayor is proposing a budget that neither raises taxes nor borrows from the city's savings.

Mayor Billy Barlow said his proposed $45 million budget was years in the making. He was able to avoid tax or fee increases this year thanks to reductions in staff in previous budget cycles.

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The June 23 primary was the first in New York to allow all voters the option of casting their ballots by mail. Under an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, registered voters could cite the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for filling out an absentee ballot.

The New York State Legislature held a hearing Tuesday on the primary elections to find out what went right and what went wrong.

About 50% to 60% of voters took advantage of voting by mail -- 10 to 12 times more than in previous elections -- and boards of elections had to scale up their systems quickly.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

NEW YORK (AP) — Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx appears, on paper, to have escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, with an official state count of just four deaths in its 146-bed facility.

The truth, according to the home, is far worse: 21 dead, most transported to hospitals before they succumbed.

Brian Turner / Flickr

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled in favor of two couples who sued for the right to have more than 50 people at their weddings in western New York, despite the state’s pandemic-related restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby issued the preliminary injunction Friday in a case involving couples who had booked weddings at Arrowhead Golf Club in Akron. The ruling allows the venue to operate under the same 50% capacity rule as restaurants serving dinner indoors.

Upstate New York Poison Center

Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, calls about hand sanitizer have been increasing at the Upstate New York Poison Center. Those calls have ratcheted up even more in recent weeks because of some dangerous hand sanitizer on the market. 

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News (file photo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that 107 school districts in the state still have not submitted their mandatory plans for reopening this fall, which is due to the state by the end of this week. Several of the districts on the list are located in central New York, including Oswego, Utica, Cortland, Fayetteville-Manlius.

In a conference call with reporters, Cuomo called out the superintendents for not getting their plans for in-person learning to the New York State Department of Health (NYDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined in a telephone news conference Monday by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to try to put pressure on Congress to finally resolve a stalemate over a federal aid package for cash-strapped states affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats who lead the House and Republicans who control the Senate have so far not been able to agree on details of a fourth bailout plan. Democrats want $1 trillion for states and local governments whose budgets have been decimated by the pandemic, but the GOP has been resisting that.

New York State Legislature

Monday’s public hearing on the COVID-19 crisis in upstate New York nursing homes will likely feature talk about reforming visitation policies and a lack of personal protective equipment, but don’t expect to hear from who some consider the state’s most important nursing home witness, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday, New York doesn’t have enough money in its budget to meet a requirement in President Donald Trump’s executive order to fund $100 a week in additional unemployment benefits. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that every region in New York state is below the 5% threshold of the COVID-19 transmission rate, and schools in the state can open in the fall. How often kids go to school, or if they go to school, depends on each of the states 700 school districts, which have been submitting their reopening plans to the state Education Department and Department of Health. 

Jillian Forstadt / WSKG News

BINGHAMTON (WSKG) — Every morning, James Minton wakes up to care for nearly 200 chickens on his farm in Windsor. He also watches over two dogs, named after Star Trek characters, a cow named Maribel, and nine great-grandchildren.

Before moving to Windsor, the 85-year-old farmer and his wife, Wilhelmina Minton, raised seven children in New York City. They now have 28 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild, many of whom have lived on and frequently visit the farm.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is responding to the U.S. Census Bureau’s decision to end all counting efforts for the 2020 census a month earlier than previously announced. The bureau’s director said it’s part of their plan to accelerate the completion of data collection by the end of the year. Walsh said cutting off the census count on September 30 is very troubling, undermines all the works that’s been done, and will hurt the city for years to come. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

The coronavirus pandemic continues to push Onondaga County government deeper into debt. The county’s most recent sales tax payment was $3.2 million less than the same time a year ago, which puts the county's sales tax hole for the year at nearly $26 million.

Tom / Flickr

Mosquitos have started testing positive for the potentially-deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis across central New York in recent weeks. Pools of mosquitos have tested positive in Onondaga, Oswego and Madison Counties over the last three weeks or so.

The positive mosquitoes have shown up in wet locales, like the Cicero Swamp and Toad Harbor Swamp. And at least in Onondaga County they come in a year where mosquito numbers are down.

Aspen Athletic Clubs Facebook

Indoor gyms are some of the few, last remaining businesses that have had to stay closed in New York state, and there is no word yet from Gov. Andrew Cuomo as to when they can reopen. Gym owners continue to suffer from the closures, but health experts say gyms can pose a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The governor who in large measure has defined states’ up-and-down fight against the coronavirus, including occasional combat with the White House, is poised to widen his national spotlight.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to take the reins of the National Governors Association on Wednesday during a meeting held virtually because of the disease.


Artists and non-profit arts organizations in central New York are projected to lose $15 million by the end of September because of the coronavirus epidemic. CNY Arts Executive Director Stephen Butler says that figure is the result of a month-long survey of more than 265 artists and organizations.

"With very little opportunity to make money, our industry is severely threatened -- with either permanent closures or having to shut up shop in the foreseeable future -- until they can figure out a way to restart without having very much cash on hand,” Butler said.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Scientists at SUNY ESF in Syracuse want help from citizens to determine the health of waterways in central New York.

governorandrewcuomo / flickr


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.