Madison Ruffo

Courtesy of Lori and Gary Gniewecki

With more than 10,390 positive cases of COVID-19 to date, according to state data, Erie County has the highest number of virus infections in all of upstate and Western New York. Today on “The Toll,” a South Cheektowaga couple recounts how they overcame the virus together but apart.

Ellicottville School District has roughly 640 students. Of those, about 30%–nearly 200 students–don’t have reliable internet access. That’s twice the national average, but on-par for Cattaraugus County–which has the least internet access in New York State. District Superintendent Bob Miller said that connectivity is a major concern as the district pursues a hybrid learning model in the fall.

“We do have a number of families that have neither internet service nor cell phone service, which makes it a tremendous challenge for those kids to do things digitally,” said Miller.

The Toll: Western New York Stories of Loss & Survival in a Pandemic
Clockwise from top left: Courtesy of Dianne Britain; Stevo Johnson/Volney Powell, Powerful Creations Photography; Darren Lisicki; and Michael O’Connor

Fever. Cough. Shortness of breath. The most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus are well-known by now. But in the third episode of WBFO’s “The Toll,” survivors of COVID-19 describe the more complicated physical and psychological impacts of battling the virus.

File Photo/Governor's office

Governor Cuomo announced on Monday that 107 school districts have yet to submit reopening plans to the New York State Department of Health. However, this announcement has caused some confusion among school districts that didn’t even know they were supposed to.

Salamanca is just one of nine Western New York school districts that were listed as having not submitted their reopening plans to the Department of Health.

With some colleges gearing up to bring students back to campus this fall, many of their employees are worried about the safety of students, faculty and staff.

The nation’s largest higher education union–United University Professions–is urging New York State lawmakers to modify their requirements for colleges in the state university system to reopen.

Madison Ruffo / WBFO News

Have you noticed a slowdown in your mail delivery lately? If so, you’re not alone. Cost cutting is causing delays, and postal union employees think it could put the November election is at risk.

Niagara County Sheriff's Office

Acting Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti announced Wednesday that the Sheriff’s Association will be presenting New York State legislators with ten proposals to protect law enforcement and civilians in the area.

WBFO's Eileen Buckley

The Erie County Sheriff’s Department proposed a plan to the County Legislature to consolidate the area’s jails at a meeting on Tuesday. However, it could be years until it comes to fruition.

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

Go. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that New York public schools will be able to reopen this fall.

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

On June 5, Cecil Foster­, a professor at the University at Buffalo, wrote a letter to administration condemning the college’s lack of anti-racist action amid the recent police killings of persons of color and subsequent protests.

WBFO Photo off Zoom

The Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival will not be at Sahlen Field come this Labor Day weekend. Festival founder, Drew Cerza, announced on Wednesday that it will be replaced with “America’s Greatest Chicken Wing Party.”

“This is an unprecedented reimagining of an American food festival. No other such event has ever attempted something like this before,” said Cerza. Instagram page

A group of Niagara University students recently presented the administration a list of demands aimed at creating a more inclusive environment.




Erie County Legislator April Baskin has asked State Attorney General Letitia James to remove state restrictions on police oversight commissions. This change would allow civilians to participate in the commissions–which investigate police misconduct.

A string of shootings over the weekend are the latest incidences of an increase in gun violence across the city in recent weeks.

WBFO file photo

The Buffalo Zoo is set to reopen its doors next week after a three-month closure due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.


The following precautions will be in place until further notice:

Buffalo-Niagara Partnership

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership — the regional chamber of commerce — sent a survey to over 12,000 local private and public-sector businesses to assess how workplaces across the region are fostering diversity and inclusion.

WBFO file photo

The Taste of Buffalo announced Wednesday what their food festival will look like online, without patrons.


Aurora Theatre

New York state's malls, gyms and movie theaters are not cleared to reopen, a devastating blow to those industries, which were preparing to reopen in Phase Four. 

Flickr user danielmoyle

When COVID-19 first hit the U.S. back in March, the stock market dropped, and people panicked. That meant sellers taking their houses off the market, while buyers swooped in to take advantage of low interest rates.



Buffalo residents get to listen to something a little different on their runs and walks on Saturday­–they can hear the stories of local refugees.

In honor of World Refugee Day, the International Institute of Buffalo collaborated with a number of local organizations to host “A Walk In Their Words.” This event brings stories of refugees and immigrants from around the globe into the community’s ears.

The Allies for Black Justice organization is hosting a march on Saturday to celebrate support the Black Lives Matter movement within the LGBTQ community, and to celebrate their allies who have shown solidarity.

“We wanted to highlight not only that black lives matter, but we wanted to also give thanks to our allies,” said David Hall, one of the coordinators of the march.

Hall said that this march is not meant to take the attention away from the black community, but to illustrate that the movement also applies to people of color within the LGBTQ community.

Island Kids Childcare Center

Island Kids Childcare Center closed its south location on Grand Island March 21 after 255 of its 285 children – nearly a 90% – started staying home with their parents. This decrease came as New York State went on PAUSE amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Neighborhood Legal Services of Buffalo

For most New Yorkers unemployment benefits have been blessing, for those who were already collecting other benefits it’s proving to be a curse.

New York State has seen an influx of unemployment claims since the coronavirus pandemic started, with 1.5 million total claims last week according to the Department of Labor. The congestion caused by the high volume of claims has pushed back payment dates for many New Yorkers. This resulted in a lump sum retroactive payment.

Courtesy of City of Buffalo

Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen proposed a resolution this week to rename a street or section of the city in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Photo provided by Garang Doar

Recent protests over the death of George Floyd have pulled back the curtain on issues related to race in Buffalo. WBFO’s Madison Ruffo spoke with one city resident about his own experiences with racism. 

When Martin Gugino was pushed by a Buffalo Police Officer on Thursday, it was added to the City of Good Neighbors’ laundry list of police brutality cases. 

Since 2006, there have been 15 documented cases of police excessive use of force in Buffalo, according to WKBW

Below are some of those cases.

Genetlemen's Prestige Barbershop

Self-haircuts and “quarantine bangs” are now a thing of the past as local barbershops and hair salons opened their doors on Wednesday. This came as Western New York entered Phase Two of New York’s plan to gradually reopen.

NYS Governor's office photo

Western New York is expected to move into Phase 2 of reopening on Tuesday, allowing hair salons and a variety of retail establishments to resume business with certain precautions in place.