Jay Moran

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With COVID positivity rates climbing, much of Erie County has been designated as an "Orange" zone. It may be only the beginning for extensive restrictions.  "It's a particular concern since Thanksgiving is approaching," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen during her weekly appearance with WBFO. Large holiday gatherings will almost certainly expand the spread of the virus. "There's no question: the number of positive cases are the leading indicator, followed several weeks later by a rise in hospitalizations, so we can expect that, followed by a rise in deaths."


Catholic Health workers are ready to care for the rising number of people contracting the coronavirus, so says the system's President and CEO Mark Sullivan. His greater concern is over what's happening outside health care facilities. "The community needs to step up and do more about that. And really be a City of Good Neighbors, (by) masking up." 

NicklausOlmstedBuffalo facebook page

Will Jack Nicklaus be designing a golf course in Buffalo? "It's always a challenge to raise funds for something like this but the good news is we're getting close," attorney Kevin Gaughan told WBFO News.  Close, in this case, equals $500,000 that is needed to reach the region's 20 percent share of the project "that will trigger 80 percent of our budget from outside of Western New York in order to ease the strain on other worthy causes."  Gaughan has been encouraged by the enthusiasm of local civic leaders and philanthropists toward the project.

Jay Moran/WBFO

When it comes to politics in Genesee County, Howard Owens of The Batavian has his finger on the pulse of the electorate. The race for sheriff has captured his attention and the attention of his readers. "We have the incumbent sheriff, William Sheron, who is on the Republican line and, then, David Krzemien who both has the Democratic endorsement and then he got enough signatures to create a Pro-Second Amendment line."  


After pushing much of the New York State healthcare system to the brink earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic is now punishing other parts of the country. "El Paso is putting hospital beds in a convention center," says Dr. Nancy Nielsen. "Sound like anything you remember seven months ago?"  During her weekly conversation with WBFO, the Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences discussed the lessons learned by New York State.  "You can't argue with the success.  And now New York has been able to move from this broad swath of Phases One through Four in Western New York and Downstate to this very micro-containment."


Researchers around the world are searching for a vaccine to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those studies are happening nearby. "We are really lucky to live in an area where cutting-edge research is really pushing science to deal with this pandemic," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Two vaccine trials--for Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer-- are taking place in Rochester. "UB is beginning a clinical trial of the Regeneron monoclonal antibodies. That's what was given to the President." Nielsen encourages those interested in helping to seek out available studies. 

Remote instruction has been a challenge for some students, and a nightmare for some parents who may not be savvy in working with computers. Literacy issues are compounding the problem. "With the pandemic and so much at-home, we have really seen where those gaps are in a lot of adult reading skills," said Amy Moritz, Literacy Coordinator for Literacy Buffalo Niagara.  She says some parents "may not understand all the instructions that teachers are sending home." 

Aurora Theater Faceook page

State officials announced over the weekend that movie theaters can open again for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  "Actually, we're still awaiting the guidelines. We have not seen them officially yet from New York State," said Lynn Kinsella, owner of the Aurora Theater. "We have a good idea of what they're going to be so we are starting to prep to see if we can get open this Friday."


It didn't take long. A few days after being released from the hospital, President Trump proclaimed that he was "cured" of COVID-19. "No, not at all," was what Dr. Nancy Nielsen said when asked if she agreed with President's self-diagnosis. "That's just not the way to look at this disease at all," said Nielsen, the former President of the American Medical Association. During her weekly discussion with WBFO, she offers a closer look at the President's treatment, one that is not readily available to most people.

Courtesy of Catholic Health

Slated to open in 2023, Lockport Memorial Hospital, a Campus of Mount Saint Mary Hospital, is a $37- million venture from Catholic Health. "The timing is always good to do what's right so we're stepping up to help Eastern Niagara to provide sustainable health care well into the future," said Catholic Health's President and CEO Mark Sullivan.

WBFO file photo

"It is not the sort of facility that we're used to when we think of prison," said Jerry Zremski, Washington Bureau Chief for the Buffalo News,, as he described the Florida federal prison where former Congressman Chris Collins is scheduled to begin his jail sentence today. In a morning conversation with WBFO, Zremski discussed the prison and how Collins remains defiant over his prosecution on corruption charges. Collins, of course, was sentenced after pleading guilty to the charges earlier this year. 

Aquarium of Niagara Twitter feed

The Aquarium of Niagara continues to expand its offerings with the opening of the M&T Bank Shark and Ray Bay.


As President of the United States, Donald Trump had access to the best medical care when he was being treated for the coronavirus. But that's only part of the medical story. "It's a real challenge to take care of VIP patients, whether they're in the hospital or not," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who wrote about the "VIP Syndrome" at The Conversation.com.

Tim Tielman

It's being touted as a high-speed "Road Train" between Buffalo and Albany which looks to learn from the expensive missteps of previous plans to connect Upstate New York.  According to Tim Tielman, Executive Director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture, this concept is exploring using the Thruway median rather than purchasing a new right-of-way.


The comments made Wednesday by CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield caught the attention of many, including Dr. Nancy Nielsen, former President of the American Medical Association. Redfield said that masks can better protect individuals from COVID-19 than a prospective vaccine. "This really put into stark contrast what Americans need to know," Nielsen said during her weekly conversation with WBFO. "But, frankly, it was also a stark rebuke to the President who basically said masks don't matter."

As founder of the Jacobs Institute in Buffalo, Dr. Nick Hopkins is monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and how it may impact the future of medicine. Medical professionals, Hopkins told WBFO, have made notable advancements in their understanding of the virus so he's organized today's webinar "COVID Unmasked: The Real Impact on the Future of Medicine." Experts will appear, Hopkins says, who will gear their knowledge to help the general public better understand how the virus works and how it is likely to change the world of medicine moving forward.

Free The People, a coalition of various racial justice and police reform groups in greater Buffalo holds another protest at 3:30 p.m. at Niagara Square. Phylicia Brown, Executive Director of Black Lives Resist in the Rust, said Saturday's shooting of Willie Henley, 60, is only the latest example of the problems inside the Buffalo Police Department.

The final score, 27-17, was only part of the story in Sunday's Biils victory over the New York Jets.  Analyst Matt Sabuda says the Buffalo Bills joined several NFL teams in remaining in the locker room while the national anthem played prior to kickoff as players use their use their platforms to call for social justice.  Another facet of Sunday's story, of course, was the lack of spectators at Buffalo Bills Stadium as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact daily life.

WBFO file photo

The Buffalo City Council has begun studying where the name of President Millard Fillmore could be removed from city property, as part of what Council President Darius Pridgen says could be a real conversation on race.

"I am very pleased that it happened," said Pridgen, of recent protests that generate a wider dialogue on race in Buffalo and across the United States.


Despite concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, college parties have been reported around area campuses. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is alarmed by the reports. "This is simply not a two-week disease," said Nielsen after hearing of new studies during a recent international conference on COVID-19.

A new poll from the Siena College Research Institute shows New Yorkers remain very concerned  over the threat posed by the coronavirus. The survey examined several aspects related to the pandemic from dining at restaurants to how people expect the cornavirus to spread again this fall. The most telling numbers, however, regard schools. Institute Director Don Levy tells WBFO that 62% of those surveyed say completely opening schools is too risky.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul / Twitter

The most recent COVID numbers highlight a troubling infection trend in this region. On Saturday, the positive rate was 1.6%, more than twice as high as the state's overall rate. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul believes the eight testing sites set up in this area by the state will work to get things under control. 


The Centers for Disease Control have changed their recommendations regarding the testing of those who have been in contact with people who have contracted COVID-19. "This is just nuts, frankly," offered Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.


With COVID-19 restrictions in place, local colleges are bringing students back to campus for the fall semester. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, gives general approval of the plans. She says the region's lowering rate of coronavirus infections is the main reason for optimism, but there are concerns. Nielsen points to problems at the University of North Carolina where the campus was quickly closed after dozens of students tested positive for the coronavirus.

The list of events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic is long and continuing to grow. Those involved in the 11 Day Power Play refused to allow that to happen to their event though changes have been made. The games won't be played on the ice at Harbor Center. In fact, there will be no ice for the 1300 participants who will begin playing hockey tonight at Buffalo RiverWorks.  Co-founder Amy Lesakowski says despite the alterations, donations are likely to surpass $1 million again this year. 

It was on this date in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson visited Buffalo. While the visit would lead to a change in the health of the region's polluted waterways, it was also the day the spotlight was placed on the uncommon efforts of a common man, Stan Spisiak. Author and legendary radio news anchor John Zach details the man and how he changed the environmental course of the region's waters in his new book, "The Day the Buffalo River Burned: The Incredible Story of Stan Spisiak."



As the debate continues over reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, one example out of Georgia is providing a lesson in how NOT to get back to school safely. "It was just amazing," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen of the images of the crowded hallways of North Paulding High School. "Nobody was socially-distanced. Nobody was wearing masks," said Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "We're going to get in trouble if we have that sort of thing happen." During an interview with WBFO, Nielsen shared some findings on the threats schools face and encouraged parents to "influence" school reopening plans.

Torn Space Theater

With Phase Four of the reopening of the region underway, Torn Space Theater is preparing to present its first in-person production since the start of the pandemic. "Silence" debuts this Friday at Silo City, which has been home to previous site-specific productions from Torn Space. Artistic Director Dan Shanahan says the work reflects "this unprecedented moment we're living in."

Courtesy of Buffalo Rising

Some believe the S.S. Columbia could sail along the recent path of the Buffalo waterfront which has been revitalized after years of neglect and abuse. The 118-year-old Columbia once traveled throughout the Great Lakes, but now sits in a state of disrepair along the Buffalo River. On WBFO's Press Pass, Newell Nussbaumer of Buffalo Rising discusses the vessel's special history and the effort to make it part of Buffalo's future.


There are currently over 20 clinical trials underway searching for a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has been following the progress of these efforts. She's been recently intrigued by the "Oxford vaccine," which is being studied in the United Kingdom.  "This has been peer-reviewed,"  said Nielsen, who explained "it uses a genetically-modified adenovirus" to produce neutralizing antibodies. The British effort is funded in part by money from the U.S. federal government "with the promises that we will be able to get vaccine doses if they are effective. "