Jay Moran

Morning Edition Host

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WBFO file photo

The doors are open again on a limited basis at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown. The center opened Friday for the first time since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, doing so at 25-percent capacity. "This is about the National Comedy Center being a national-scale cultural institution that has mission-based work that is important," said Executive Director Journey Gunderson.

A stretch of hot, dry weather will stay in Western New York for at least the rest of this week. That's according to meteorologist Jon Hitchcock of the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service who expects the pattern to remain in place "for the foreseeable future." The high temperature is expected to be 90 or above through Friday. A Heat Advisory will be in effect from Tuesday at 1pm until Friday at 8pm.


"It's in everybody's best interest for kids to be able to go school, somehow," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Nielsen cited a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that indicates children have fallen behind academically since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close. With the coronavirus spreading in some areas, returning to the classroom will be complicated.

The Western New York Region may be reopening one phase at a time, but the local economy is a long way from recovering from its pandemic-forced shutdown. Inside that gloomy picture, however, Jim Fink of Business First is finding some positive signs. As Western New York begins Phase Four Tuesday, he discusses the millions being invested in local projects by developers from outside the area for this month's appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. 

Joshua Koester

Buffalo Rising is in the process of unveiling "Greenlight," a video series that looks to bring exposure to Buffalo basketball at a critical time for high school players.  Producers Devin Chavanne and Joshua Koester say the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the AAU basketball season which for many players is their best hope to attract the attention of college coaches and the possibility of scholarships.


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts have been pleading with the public to wear masks when they come in contact with others. A new study is now backing that advice.

Jay Moran/WBFO

The international spotlight has been on the Buffalo Police department in recent days. Much of that attention was ignited last Thursday when a protester was injured after he was pushed by members of the department's Emergency Response Team on the steps of City Hall. While she no longer covers the department, journalist Daniela Porat reflected on her previous reporting which highlighted a number of issues, including the use of excessive force and the lack of appropriate training.


As Western New York reopens its economy from the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some areas of the country are reporting spikes in the disease. "New York has done so well. We're one of 24 states where the numbers are really massively trending down," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen during her weekly appearance on WBFO.  "What we can't do is get complacent and let it go back up like it has in 19 states."

With heat index values projected to be in the upper 90s on Wednesday, the National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory from noon until 7 p.m.  

Following Saturday's protest at Niagara Square and the ensuing vandalism, officials in a variety of government capacities blamed the unrest on the presence of "outside agitators," non-locals whose sole intent was to create tension and violence. The dialogue prompted Jim Heaney to pen a column at Investigative Post which took exception with the claims. Heaney believes the term was used to steer the community conversation away from how local government has failed to combat the city's structural racism.


"Whenever you list the names of those who have been killed at the hands of the police, it's not just one community," said Anthony Neal, professor of Political Science at Buffalo State College. "It's not just the south, it's not just the east." That growing realization, Neal argues, worked to spur the turnout at Saturday night's protest at Niagara Square. "It's all across the country."


Saturday's protest in Niagara Square may have been prompted by the Minneapolis death of George Floyd, but one observer believes the message should be absorbed by local officials. "The children took the street," was how Marielle Smith of Black Love Resists in the Rust characterized the evening's events. That energy, Smith contends, is focused on bringing change to the Buffalo police department.

Downtown Buffalo's protest Saturday night, like those in so many other cities across the nation and the world, was sparked by last week's death of George Floyd, who was suffocated by a Minneapolis police officer. Rev. Mark Blue, President of the Buffalo branch of the NAACP, says the protests show the need for  change in how police perform their duties. 


As the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 continues to decline, more of public life will reopen. While it's a positive development, Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, offers the stern reminder that "this is not a virus to be trifled with." Nielsen answers questions related to COVID-19 every Thursday morning on WBFO.

From tourism and hospitality to retail, multiple industries are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Jim Fink of Business First discussed some of the struggles during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. Tourism, Fink points out, is suffering on both sides of the Niagara River as the border remains closed. Some retail analysts, Fink says, are predicting as many as 40% of small retail shops are in jeopardy of closing.


Earlier this week, Chautauqua County health officials reported less than three percent of residents who have been tested are showing a presence of antibodies.  "Low level of the antibodies means not many people have had this disease and, therefore, they don't have potential immunity," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, the former president of the American Medical Association who has been discussing COVID-19 issues every Thursday with WBFO. "So, that means the majority of the population is still susceptible."

Born and raised in the city, Buffalo Rising contributor Vilona Trachtenberg possesses "a lot of pride for Buffalo." When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region, Trachtenberg worked to highlight some of the many community efforts aimed at lifting spirits and helping healthcare workers. 

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochuls' twitter account

A month ago, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said, the prospects were bleak for the region's economy to reopen in the foreseeable future. COVID-related deaths and hospitalization rates seemed to be increasing on a daily basis.  


Torn Space Theater is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We can't have the same large-scale performances that we're used to," said Artistic Director Dan Shanahan. Starting this Friday and running through  May 31, Torn Space presents an online "personal-performance piece" called "Passage." Assembled by sound designer Justin Rowland, the production is intended for solitary listening.

The Brown administration will likely be watching closely as Congress debates a proposed aid package that would send $375 billion to boost local governments that are struggling with the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal would send $1 billion to Buffalo. Geoff Kelly of Investigative Post expects the Republican-controlled Senate to reject the plan. Kelly reports the city budget faces a massive shortfall without the funding. 


New York officials report over 100 children have become sick with an illness that could be connected with COVID infections. "Everybody who is the parent of a kid under 20 ought to be alert to the symptoms," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The subject was one of many Dr. Nielsen addressed during her weekly conversation with WBFO.

courtesy of Bob DiCesare

For former Buffalo News sportswriter Bob DiCesare, the outbreak of the coronavirus has forced him to continue his stay in Florida for an additional two months. He wasn't complaining, especially about the weather, but admitted, "I'm itching to get home." In an hour-long interview with WBFO, the Western New York native had plenty to say about the state of journalism, the changes at his former employer and his passion for fishing the streams, rivers and lakes of the region.


Labs throughout the world  are searching for an answer to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some seem to making progress, so says Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean of Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Of the 100 vaccines in development, she says eight are in trials with human patients.

Most local businesses say they are taking a financial hit due to the pandemic. A new survey of more than 1,800 companies across Western New York finds 93% of respondents are experiencing a decline in revenue. 

Lieutenant Governor Hochul's Twitter Account

Some regions of the state may see New York PAUSE restrictions lifted on May 15. The optimistic development, says Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, can be attributed to state residents who have generally stayed at home and followed other precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.


While Chautauqua County sits adjacent to Erie County, the coronavirus has had a drastically different impact on the two entities. Hundreds of Erie County residents have been infected with the virus, with 266 deaths attributed to COVID-19.  In Chautauqua County, there have been less than 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19; three lives have been claimed by the virus. County Executive P.J. Wendel reports four county residents are currently dealing with the virus. "Prior to Tuesday, we had not had a hospitalization for  COVID-19 since the eighth of April."


Appearances matter. That was the thought of Dr. Nancy Nielsen as she was watching the news earlier this week when Vice President Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic. Officials were wearing masks in accordance to the facility's guidelines. The Vice President was not."It looked like it was obsequious deference to a non-science attitude at a time when infection controls are crucial," Nielsen said during her weekly appearance on WBFO.

Advocates and attorneys are decrying how detainees at the Federal Detention Center are treated after they exit the Batavia facility. Phil Gambini of Investigative Post reports on how detainees are dropped off at a gas station that also serves as a service point for bus transportation. After the report aired, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement refuted the story, claiming it "takes away from the professionalism of the men and women that work at the facility." In a morning conversation with WBFO, Gambini discussed the facts behind his story.

File Photo

Look for some changes on local buses as the Niagara Frontier Transportation Autority continues to adapt to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's a failed connection that is happening at the worst time for 5,500 students in the Buffalo school district. Scheduled to have been operational in January, a project called "Connected Communities" could have provided WiFi access to students dealing with the demands of distance learning as schools remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.3 million plan is far behind schedule and, as Geoff Kelly of Investigative Post reports, the company charged with installing the system is also facing other troubles.