Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media (file photo)

As the rates of COVID-19 infections have dropped and the number of people vaccinated rises, Onondaga County has scaled back many of its pandemic related activities. 

Starting Tuesday, Onondaga County will offer vaccines only one day a week, and not at the Oncenter, which has been ground zero for vaccinations since early this year. Anyone looking for a shot can get it at the Civic Center instead.  County Executive Ryan McMahon says walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are still preferred.

It's still a mystery. How did the pandemic begin?

There is the leading hypothesis among scientists: The virus hopped from an animal — possibly a bat — to a human, or to some other animal, which later spread the disease to humans.

And then there is the lab leak hypothesis: The virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Dr. Leora Horwitz treats fewer and fewer COVID-19 patients at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Still, she thinks there are too many.

And, notably, the COVID-19 patients almost all have something in common.

"I've only had one patient who was vaccinated, and he was being treated for cancer with chemotherapy," she says, alluding to recent research on the vaccines' limited effectiveness for cancer patients.

governorandrewcuomo / flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he’s lifting all remaining state COVID-19 restrictions, including requirements for masks and social distancing, and capacity limits at events, now that New York has reached the governor’s goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

Cuomo, in a campaign style event held before a cheering crowd of union leaders and others at the World Trade Center in New York City, said the goal was reached sometime on Monday, according to numbers compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 15 months since the first confirmed death due to COVID-19 in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 600,000 lives across the country.

But that trend has slowed from thousands to hundreds per day in recent weeks, thanks largely to the ready availability of vaccines.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The New York State Fair will be back at full capacity this summer. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the move as the state’s COVID-19 infection rate dropped to .41% Sunday.

Speaking at the New York State Fairgrounds near Syracuse Monday, Cuomo said he’s looking forward to a great summer.

“This summer has to make up all we’ve had to go through the past year,” said Cuomo.

The first results from a large efficacy study of a new kind of COVID-19 vaccine are now out, and they are good. Very good.

According to Novavax, the vaccine's manufacturer, it had a 100% efficacy against the original strain of the coronavirus and 93% efficacy against more worrisome variants that have subsequently appeared.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A group of central New Yorkers held a protest in Syracuse Thursday, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to end the mask mandate for children, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to drop in New York.

Christine Wood of Liverpool said the continued state regulations that require masks in schools has forced her son to continue learning from home, instead of going to school.

Fifteen months into the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a mandatory workplace safety rule aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19. But it only applies to health care settings, a setback for unions and worker safety advocates who had called for much broader requirements.

This week: Coronavirus variants, and a Lyme disease test

Jun 9, 2021

Are you confused about the difference between a viral mutation and a variant?

In this episode of "HealthLink on Air," Dr. Elizabeth Asiago-Reddy explains what's important to know about viruses and coronaviruses including the one responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the chief of infectious disease at Upstate University Hospital. The segment also explores the effectiveness of vaccines against emerging variations of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Bureau of Labor Statistics


On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report. Liz Schmitt, an economics professor at SUNY Oswego, said if she could describe it in one word she’d say it's “vexing.”

Schmitt said while there was some job growth -- in fact there were nearly 560,000 new jobs added in May -- that’s not as much as experts wanted or expected. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

After a weekend of confusion for schoolchildren, their parents and teachers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo clarified changes in mask policy for schools in New York on Monday. He said children don’t have to wear masks outside, but do have to wear them inside.

On Friday afternoon, Cuomo and his health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, took schools by surprise when they released a letter that Zucker wrote to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

It looks like New York state is not ready to change its guidance on masking yet for grades K-12.

On Friday, NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker released a letter he sent to the CDC, saying that the state would try and align its school and summer camp mask guidance, and that would mean that both indoors and outdoors, students, campers and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media File Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state health officials said Friday that mask-wearing will be optional in K-12 schools starting Monday, but the country’s largest school system, New York City, plans to keep its universal mask policy in place.

The Neighborhood Center


Prior to the pandemic, one in five Americans reported having some type of mental illness. Now, that number is up to 40% according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

The isolation, uncertainty and insecurities of the pandemic have perpetuated the increase researchers and physicians have seen in mental illness diagnoses over the past few years. 

Jessica Cain / for WRVO News

Enjoy the beauty of New York state and help fight COVID-19 at the same time. That was the message at state parks across New York this Memorial Day weekend. 

Pop-up vaccination clinics provided shots to holiday visitors at many locations across the state, including Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville.   

governorandrewcuomo / flickr

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Vaccinated kids aged 12 to 17 will have a chance to win a full ride to public universities and colleges in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

The governor said the state will raffle off 50 scholarships, which would cover four years of tuition, room and board, books and supplies.

MUMBAI — Three years ago, when Shiv Joshi was studying to become a doctor at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in central India, he had to choose a specialty. He'd been reading about the Black Death and the Spanish flu, and he wanted to learn how to track infectious diseases through triage, testing and contact tracing. So he decided to specialize in community medicine.

This was in 2018 — a century after the 1918 flu pandemic he was reading about, and two years before the coronavirus would become a full-blown pandemic in India.

Updated May 25, 2021 at 2:42 PM ET

The U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program has gone from zero to 50% in less than six months.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Biden administration said, half of the country's adults are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"This is a major milestone in our country's vaccination efforts," Andy Slavitt, a White House senior adviser on the COVID-19 response, said during a midday briefing. "The number was 1% when we entered office Jan. 20."

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

State officials are revising new recommendations that required children as young as two years old to wear masks in a child care setting. 

In a joint statement, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services said they will allow child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic. Instead of guidelines released last week that required children aged 2-5 to wear masks, the agencies said they will encourage it.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York state is offering a new incentive to get more people vaccinated -- free passes to state parks this Memorial Day weekend.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, appearing at Jones Beach on Long Island, said Monday that unvaccinated New Yorkers going to a participating state park this weekend will be able to get a shot at a pop-up vaccine clinic. In exchange, they will receive a free two-day pass to all state-run parks in New York. 

When cases of COVID-19 began rising in Boston last spring, Pooja Chandrashekar, then a first year student at Harvard Medical School, worried that easy-to-understand information about the pandemic might not be available in the many languages spoken by clients of the Family Van, the health services and health literacy program where she was working at the time.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a change in the duration for those Excelsior COVID-19 vaccination passes that many people who have received the vaccine have downloaded onto their smartphones.

Cuomo said on Saturday that, “All Excelsior COVID-19 Vaccination Passes retrieved beginning today will be valid for 365 days, up from 180 days. Those who already have a Vaccination Pass may retrieve a new Pass whenever they choose to in order to take advantage of this extension.”

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." See an archive of our FAQs here.

Updated Monday, May 24, 2021

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office


New York state is dealing with a severe decline in COVID-19 vaccination rates by offering free lottery tickets to those who agree to get a shot, starting Monday.

While over half of New Yorkers are now fully vaccinated, the rest of the population seems more reluctant to get their shots. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said beginning next week, all state vaccination sites will give away lottery tickets, worth $20, to anyone who agrees to get a dose.

WRVO News (file photo)

Wednesday marked the easing of many COVID-19 restrictions in New York state, but at the State Capitol, many of those rules remain in place, including mandatory masks in some circumstances.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state would comply with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules that say fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks or practice social distancing.


The world is very worried about coronavirus variants.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Students at Syracuse University have had little hesitancy about getting the coronavirus vaccine, according to a survey taken earlier this year.

Madison Ruffo / WRVO Public Media


New Yorkers are starting to see the light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel as vaccinated residents are no longer required to wear masks outdoors and now indoors starting Wednesday.

So, what does that mean if you and your vaccinated friends want to grab a drink at Coleman’s Irish Pub in Syracuse? Dennis Coleman, whose family owns the landmark restaurant and bar, said it’s pretty simple.

Anyone who has watched soap operas in the last 50 years knows Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center as General Hospital. For decades, its original building graced the soap opera's opening credits.

Inside, though, there's no love story between Luke and Laura.

LAC + USC is what's known as a safety-net hospital — one of the largest in the United States. And that makes the reality inside a daily financial struggle to care for every patient who walks through its doors, patients other hospitals often try to avoid.