Karen DeWitt

Albany Reporter

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.

DeWitt is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

DeWitt has served as a panelist for numerous political debates, including the 2014 gubernatorial debate sponsored by WNED|WBFO

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Karen DeWitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

A small band of protesters gathered Wednesday outside the state capital to demand that Gov. Andrew Cuomo loosen restrictions for visiting residents at nursing homes. But so far, the governor shows no sign of changing the rules.

New York Now

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many voters to choose to cast their ballots by mail this year. In New York, every eligible voter can vote by absentee ballot if they are worried about the virus, but the rules are still a bit complicated. WBFO Albany Correspondent Karen DeWitt sat down with the League of Women Voters' Jennifer Wilson to sort it all out.

Karen DeWitt

October brings colder weather in the Northeast, and restaurants that have survived by offering outdoor dining during the 2020 summer of COVID-19 are bracing for a long and perhaps lonely winter of limited indoor dining. 

WNYC / WXXI

Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno has died at the age of 91 after a battle with cancer. Bruno, a colorful, larger than life character who once rode his own horse into the venue where state Capitol reporters were presenting their annual gridiron show, was leader of the Republican dominated State Senate from 1994 to 2008.

Office of the Governor

Schools in coronavirus hot spots in New York City will shut down beginning Tuesday under an order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor also threatened Monday to close down religious gatherings, including large Orthodox Jewish events, in the hot spots and said the state will take over enforcement of rules, including mask wearing and social distancing. 

Ian Pickus / WAMC

State officials have unveiled a free smartphone app that will be able to notify someone if they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Kyle S. Mackie / WBFO News

Clusters of the coronavirus in parts of New York are causing concern, and while the outbreaks remain isolated for now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not ruled out shutting down parts of the economy again if other measures don’t work.

Raising New York

New York’s business leaders are among those warning that the state’s child care system is broken and on the verge of collapse, and they are calling for emergency and long term relief from the state and federal governments.

Carlos Osorio / AP Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he’s immediately taking steps to control several cluster outbreaks of COVID-19 in portions of New York state, including installing rapid testing machines at virus hot spots.

Creative Commons

On Oct. 19, more than seven months after the law took effect, New York State’s environmental agency will begin enforcing a ban on single use plastic bags at grocery stores and other retailers.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is responding to critics who say the state needs to make decisions on how to close its COVID-19-related multibillion-dollar deficit. He said the federal government needs to provide relief, because it was the not the state’s fault.

Office of the Governor

Saying he does not trust the federal government, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York State will conduct its own review of any COVID-19 vaccines that are deemed to be ready for use.

On national voter registration day, pro voting rights groups are encouraging potential voters to register, and for those who do want to vote, to make a plan in advance.  There are some important dates for voters in New York to remember.

Office of the Governor

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is dismissing as “political” President Donald Trump’s Justice Department move to classify New York City, Seattle and Portland as “anarchy” jurisdictions and withhold billions of dollars in federal funds.  

A decision by New Jersey leaders to raise taxes on that state’s wealthiest residents has provided new hope to advocates who want to tax the rich in New York -- but Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his budget director are throwing cold water on that proposal.

Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Sometime in November, the New York State Thruway system will transition to cashless tolling. All of its tollbooths will go dark and a network of electronic tolling monitors will switch on.

Matt Ryan / New York Now

New York’s fiscal year is nearly half over and the state budget remains billions of dollars out of balance, largely due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic-related economic shutdown. So far, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been relying on temporary measures to keep the state afloat, but fiscal experts say it’s time to make some hard decisions.

New York State Department of Health

Monday was the first day back at school for many of New York’s kindergarten through 12th-grade students, though some students will learn remotely. Health officials say they will monitor whether the in-person classes cause any outbreaks of COVID-19.

Dan Clark / WMHT

Schools in New York are busy finalizing plans to partially reopen, and many colleges and universities have already begun classes. But those who work at the schools, including teachers and professors, say guidelines for when to wear masks need to be more comprehensive to help prevent spread of the coronavirus. 

University at Buffalo

Over the weekend, the State University of New York at Oneonta became the first in the 64-campus system to shut down in-person classes for two weeks after a coronavirus outbreak. State and college officials are trying to prevent that closure from becoming a trend.

Kyle S. Mackie / WBFO News

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing for more help for child care, as resources for parents dwindle during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview for public radio and television, WBFO Albany Correspondent Karen DeWitt spoke to Hochul, who said the child care crisis existed before the virus struck and has affected her personally.

File Photo / WBFO News

More schools around New York say they are scaling back on plans for in-person learning and expanding remote instruction, citing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s temporary 20% cut in state aid to schools which was enacted to help close a pandemic related state budget deficit.

Dan Clark / New York Now

As schools in New York State grapple with reopening plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also facing a temporary 20% cut in state funding, that could become permanent.

Office of the President

Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls changes in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that ease testing standards for Americans exposed to someone with COVID-19 “political propaganda” and says he won’t follow them.

File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed executive orders that he said will help ensure safe and secure voting in November’s elections.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that there won’t be any high school football games, wrestling matches or ice hockey contests this fall. The governor did issue new guidelines to phase in matches for other types of school sports, however.

File Photo/Governor's office

With a six-day surge in positive COVID-19 test results, and average cases over several days rising, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the region has been "given a caution flag," to assess whether proper procedures are in place.

At the governor's  Monday briefing on the coronavirus, he also said that several high school sports will not have a season this year across New York State.

Nick Lippa / WBFO News

New York's ban on single-use plastic bags has been upheld in State Supreme Court after the plastics industry challenged it, and it will now take effect in September.

New York will immediately allow all voters in the state to request a mail-in ballot for the November elections. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed bills into law Thursday that, among other things, allow all eligible voters to cite the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to vote absentee.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the rate of positive coronavirus tests was below 1% for the 12th day in New York. But he also said it’s not time to be complacent and predicted there could be worse to come this fall.

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