Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County.  Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 

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Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is getting help from a Pulaski company to keep air clean for some essential city workers.

Once the weather gets colder, DPW employees will crowd into a big meeting room to start the day. To ensure their safety in the era of COVID-19, a brand new air purifier from HealthWay Products in Pulaski will sit in the corner, quietly doing its job, according to company president Vincent Lobdell.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to hit central New York, the CNY Diaper Bank has distributed more diapers to needy families than ever before. 

"Families have lost income, have lost jobs, lost hours. Families are being forced to stay home with children, and they can’t keep up with this ongoing need," said Diaper Bank Executive Director Michela Hugo. "Diapers are really expensive, especially if you can’t buy in bulk."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Testing for school staffers and students with symptoms of the coronavirus is ramping up in Onondaga County this week to try to catch the virus before it makes its way into schools. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said Monday about 50 tests were done during the first day of testing at NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse.

Howie Hawkins 2020 campaign

The Green Party candidate for president won’t be on the ballot in two battleground states, following court rulings last week. It's another example, the Greens say, of the difficulties third party candidates have getting on the ballot.

Democrats have long fought to keep Green Party candidates off the ballot, concerned that liberal voters will support the more progressive party, rather than a mainstream Democrat. They point to election results in 2016, when Green Party candidate Jill Stein pulled in more votes than Democrat Hillary Clinton lost by in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon wants New York State to start including negative results from the thousands of saliva-based coronavirus tests that have been administered in central New York in recent weeks. He said without that, the infection rate for COVID-19 skews higher.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hemp industry leaders from across New York are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put out regulations they need in order to operate their business.

Cuomo has already signed the Hemp Extract Bill, which regulates the state’s growing hemp industry. The problem is, the state hasn’t released the hemp extract regulations that provide a framework for hemp growers, processors and retailers. That is leaving them operating under hemp research permits that expire in October.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

In the wake of two students testing positive for the coronavirus in two different school districts in Onondaga County, county health officials are developing ways to get quicker information on potential cases.

County Executive Ryan McMahon said it was inevitable that there would be a positive coronavirus test  as children returned to school. But he said Monday the protocol in place handled it well.

We quickly isolated the individual, quickly quarantined. Every case is different with contact tracing, but certainly I think the process worked very, very well," McMahon said.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

The coronavirus pandemic is changing how communities mark the annual anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

There won’t be many gatherings to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the attacks, but there will be ceremonies. The Syracuse Police Department will host its annual memorial at Foreman Park, that includes the Fire Department, mayor’s office and the Onondaga County Executive's office. The public is asked to stay away to avoid violating COVID restrictions. 

Interfaith Works CNY

An organization that supports New Americans in Oswego is hoping to get the community talking about Oswego’s history and ties to immigration, and how it’s playing out in 2020.

A virtual community forum Thursday evening will invite new Americans to tell stories about life in refugee and immigrant communities in central New York, as well as look back at Oswego’s history with immigrants and refugees. 

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is hoping to include $25 billion dollars in the next coronavirus relief package to help the struggling U.S. Postal Service. In East Syracuse Monday, Gillibrand said full funding is needed for the Post Office, to keep it operating at full capacity. 

She said she's hopeful Democrats and Republicans can negotiate some kind of agreement on this.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University is offering special training for teachers in the Syracuse City School District who will engage in online learning this school year. 270 teachers in the district are taking the training, as they get ready to return to a virtual classroom.  

Superintendent Jaime Alicea said the district faces many challenges this year, and is happy to have a partnership that also includes the Allyn Foundation and Blackboard INC.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Getting children to school safely is one of the more complex issues schools face as they open up in the coming weeks. That means the annual school safety message looks a little different.

Critz Farms

Expect smaller crowds and different layouts at local farms that deal in agritourism this fall. It’s all part of new state guidance geared specifically towards businesses the feature pick-your-own fruit operations, hayrides and corn mazes.

WRVO Public Media

As we head into the final long weekend of summer, the pandemic continues to affect central New Yorker’s travel plans. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The death of a Rochester man in police custody earlier this year, has put the spotlight on how officers deal with calls that may involve mental health issues. Daniel Prude died a few days after officers put a hood over his head and pressed his head to the pavement, shortly after taking him into custody. He’d been acting erratically and his family says he had mental health issues. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said how police deal with these kinds of cases is something the city is looking at. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Child care advocates across the state are pressuring the Cuomo administration to release federal funds for child care. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

A more precise way of pool testing developed by scientists at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, will help better track COVID-19 outbreaks at SUNY schools.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

If this were any other year, New Yorkers would be chowing down on sausage sandwiches and pizza frites, while strolling through the Midway of the New York State Fair in Syracuse. But for the first time since World War II, the fair, like many others across the country, has been canceled, due to COVID 19.

The Community Foundation Facebook

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is taking on racism. The philanthropic organization will invest $10 million to address systemic and systematic racism in the Mohawk Valley.

Fairfax County / Flickr

Scientists at SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, have some advice on where to check for ticks on your body. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media File Photo

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is joining a nationwide action to spur changes that could stop a growing gun threat in Syracuse.

Onondaga County

Onondaga County’s COVID-19 mobile testing unit starts hitting local school districts this week. The back-to-school mobile testing will start with teachers and staff. 

WRVO News File Photo

One central New York physician said it’s a little bit concerning that the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for treating COVID-19 with convalescent plasma therapy

Jeremy Brinn / Syracuse University

Classes have started on the Syracuse University campus. University officials are cautiously optimistic that their plans for bringing students to campus in the time of COVID-19, will be successful.

Byrne Dairy

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

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. 

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.


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.