Nursing homes in New York state can now allow more visitors in their facilities, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, expanded the guidelines for visitations. Some state legislators say long-term reform of the nursing home industry is also needed.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his staff were in damage control mode Thursday as they faced two scandals: the governor’s handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and the months-long suppression of the true number of residents’ deaths, and allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed a former staffer. 

Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, testified at a long-awaited legislative budget hearing. Zucker -- who had postponed his testimony, originally scheduled for three weeks ago -- appeared 2½ hours late. He immediately addressed the nursing home controversy.

Cuomo, legislature still far apart on marijuana legalization

Feb 25, 2021
Brett Levin / Flickr

With only about a month left before Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature must agree on a budget for the next year, the two parties are still far apart on a proposal to legalize adult use marijuana.

Last week, Cuomo amended his legalization proposal, the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation act, in three particular areas. It added provisions to allow for delivery services for marijuana products, reduced felony punishments for illicit sale of marijuana, and outlined some specifics on how particular tax proceeds would be administered for social and racial equity programs.

Ellen Abbott

The experience of Onondaga County during the pandemic is now part of the Congressional Record. County Executive Ryan McMahon provided lawmakers with a boots-on-the-ground insight during a congressional hearing Wednesday.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Two female former aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are accusing him of bad behavior, with one saying the governor sexually harassed her in incidents that included inappropriate touching and an invitation to play strip poker. Cuomo denies the allegations.

WRVO Public Media (File Photos)

U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) has invited Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon to deliver testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security at a hearing this morning, Wednesday, February 24 at 9:30 a.m. EST. The County Executive will serve as a witness at the hearing entitled, "Confronting the Coronavirus: Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic One Year Later." Rep.

Vaughn Golden / WSKG News

A group tasked with reimagining public safety in Ithaca and Tompkins County has submitted a draft set of recommendations including a proposal to abolish the Ithaca Police Department.

Upstate New York Poison Center

The Upstate New York Poison Center didn’t get more calls than usual during 2020. But the pandemic did lead to some changes in the kinds of calls, as well as a possible insight to more serious issues.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

For a time in 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was considered one of the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic for his steady and focused daily briefings when national leadership was lacking.

But recently, the governor has suffered a reversal of fortune, as a scandal over the suppression of the number of nursing home deaths dominates news coverage of his administration. Additionally, a new poll finds the majority of New Yorkers now think the governor did something wrong.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

It took three months after Election Day for Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) to be declared the winner, but the 22nd Congressional District now finally has representation in Congress. Tenney is serving her second term in office, after being unseated in 2018. She reflected on the frustrating legal process over the last few months, as well as the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Doctors tackle COVID-19 vaccine mistrust through outreach

Feb 23, 2021
Tompkins County / YouTube Screenshot

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors are often responsible for giving out information. But not everyone has a doctor they trust, especially in communities of color.

Jada Hamilton is a family physician and deputy medical director at Cornell Health. Hamilton, who is Black, spoke with Tompkins County residents during a Q&A session hosted by the county’s health department this month focused on concerns from people of color about the vaccine.

Syracuse VA Medical Center Facebook

The Syracuse VA Medical Center is working on getting coronavirus vaccines to veterans in a 14-county area stretching from the North Country to the Southern Tier.

More than 6,000 eligible and enrolled veterans have already started the vaccination process; either at the Syracuse hospital, or clinics in Rome, Binghamton and Watertown. Syracuse VA Medical Center Director Frank Pearson said the VA has been expanding clinics since it started vaccinating vets against COVID-19.

New York State Senate

New York state could require nursing homes to spend a certain amount of their revenue on direct patient care, mandate transparent reporting of COVID-19 deaths of residents at those facilities, and more under a package of bills passed by the State Senate Monday.

The legislation is the result of a pair of public hearings on the state’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes last summer, coupled with new revelations about the Cuomo administration.

Dan Clark / New York Now

There’s a consensus among Democrats in the State Assembly that action must be taken against the Cuomo administration for withholding information on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters Monday.

Heastie made the remarks after Democrats in the Assembly met for six hours Monday to discuss next steps, including a potential removal of Cuomo’s emergency pandemic powers.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Residents of nursing homes in New York state will be able to have visitors again, starting this Friday, Feb. 26, under new rules laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state health officials.

State officials delayed reopening the nursing homes, closed to visitors since last March, until all the residents were offered a chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, 73% of residents have now agreed to receive both doses. So far, 15,000 elderly residents in nursing homes or other long-term adult care facilities have died of COVID-19, the vast majority of them alone. 

CenterState CEO

A company out of Pulaski has been donating air purifiers to some Syracuse businesses hit hard by the pandemic. Restaurants in particular, hope this added safety measure lures more indoor diners downtown.

WRVO News (file photos)

Two Democrats on the Syracuse Common Council will face off in a primary in June to determine who gets on the Democratic ballot line in the November race for mayor.

The Onondaga County Democratic Party threw its support behind councilor Michael Greene last week.  Councilor Khalid Bey gathered reporters days later to announce he wants that decision in the hands of voters.

NEW YORK (AP) — The first case of the South African coronavirus variant has been discovered in a New York state resident, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

The South African variant case involved a resident of Long Island’s Nassau County, Cuomo said in a news release. The sequencing was conducted at Opentrons Labworks Inc’s Pandemic Response Lab, a New York City-based commercial lab, and verified at the Wadsworth Center in Albany.

A Connecticut resident who had been hospitalized in New York City was found to have the South African variant last week.

WRVO News (file photo)

On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Ben Walsh. He's just begun his fourth year as Mayor of the city of Syracuse, and recently gave his State of the City address. Grant talks to Walsh about many of the topics that were in Walsh's wide-ranging address.   

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Over his long career, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been known as a brutal, even vindictive political opponent, quick to retaliate against people who oppose his agenda or challenge him publicly.

Tough tactics — even against fellow Democrats — brought him to the pinnacle of power in New York. But Cuomo’s penchant for punching hard at perceived enemies drew fresh condemnations this week in the wake of a tirade against a lawmaker who questioned his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Local health departments in New York state now have the discretion to determine how much space should separate children’s desks at school. That could mean a move towards more in-person learning.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The coronavirus positivity rate at SUNY schools is 0.5%, according to Chancellor Jim Malatras. He said that’s good, also noting SUNY has conducted more than a million coronavirus tests. But there still have been some issues.

New York State Senate

The New York State Senate is poised to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of some of his emergency pandemic powers and add an oversight commission to review the decisions the governor makes. There’s growing support for the measure as Cuomo has said that he was wrong to withhold, for months, the true number of deaths from COVID-19 at the state’s nursing homes.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced mounting challenges to his leadership on the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday as state lawmakers threatened to strip him of the power to issue emergency orders and federal investigators scrutinized his administration’s handling of nursing home data.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Onondaga County paid its two elections commissioners more than $15,000 each in unused vacation time. That’s because the county Legislature created new positions for the elections commissioners, in a class that won’t receive any cost of living or step increases. This came after the county executive vetoed an attempt by the Legislature to dock the pay of the commissioners by $7,000 in December. One legislator said it started as political retribution by the Republican-controlled Legislature against the Democratic elections commissioner.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come under increasing fire for his administration’s decision to withhold for months the true number -- 15,000 -- of nursing home residents and other older adults in long-term care who died of coronavirus.

On Wednesday, in a phone briefing with reporters, the governor singled out Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Queens Democrat, who had an uncle die of COVID-19 in April in a nursing home in Flushing, one of the areas hardest hit by the virus when New York was at the epicenter of the pandemic.

Matt Ryan / New York Now (file photo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Several New York lawmakers are proposing a tax hike for individuals making at least $300,000 per year in hopes of bringing in an estimated $15 billion in annual revenue.

It’s the latest proposal to raise taxes on high earners and is the only legislation so far this year to propose raising taxes on people making below $1 million. The bill’s left-wing backers include Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and the Working Families party.

overbeforeitstarted / Flickr

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York is set to let amusement parks open in early April and overnight camps open this summer as long as they submit reopening plans to the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that arcades and other indoor family entertainment centers can open with 25% capacity starting March 26. Outdoor amusement parks can open with a third of their normal capacity by April 9, while day and overnight camps can start planning for reopening this summer.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Oneida County elections commissioners are stepping down, after an extremely close election for the 22nd Congressional District revealed significant errors on behalf of the Oneida County Board of Elections.

Carolanne Cardone, the Democratic elections commissioner, submitted her resignation on Tuesday, according to the Oneida County Legislature clerk. The Republican elections commissioner, Rose Grimaldi, is expected to submit her resignation Wednesday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Some New Yorkers are driving hours to get the COVID-19 vaccine because they are unable to find appointments closer to home through a state website.

Residents of the Albany and Buffalo areas in particular have complained on social media and to their local lawmakers that they have had to resort to signing up for appointments in Utica, Rochester, Binghamton or Syracuse.