Stories from WBFO and NPR about how COVID-19 is affecting Western New York, the United States and the entire globe.

In the week ending April 1, nearly 64,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported among children. According to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, that accounted for 18 percent of the new cases in the United States.

Kevin P. Coughlin (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will hold a COVID-19 update at 2 p.m. Tuesday in New York City. Watch it live here.

Erie County

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz will give his regular COVID-19 briefing at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Watch it live here.

A blue cloth face mask is pictured on a white table.
Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo / University at Buffalo

On Wednesday, the University at Buffalo announced some good news for those who might be having a bad week.

Researchers at the university are looking for people who just got diagnosed with COVID-19 to participate in an outpatient treatment study.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials have been encouraging the wearing of masks to slow the spread of the virus. Now, many people who have been vaccinated are wondering if they can ditch their masks. "Absolutely not," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

Nursing home finances have come under scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the New York State Legislature is considering a measure to limit how much nursing homes can profit, which proponents say will mean better care for residents and opponents say will just harm the industry.




Erie County

The number of New Yorkers able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is about to dramatically increase, as those 30 and older became eligible Tuesday and those 16 and older will be eligible starting next week. Luckily for Erie County, it’s about to receive its largest weekly vaccine allocation yet.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Nancy Nielsen has been providing updates and analysis on a weekly basis to WBFO. Despite the increased distribution of COVID vaccines in the community, the Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is growing concerned. "There has been an uptick in the cases locally and the hospitalizations." In monitoring the local trends, Nielsen sees valuable lessons in what is happening in parts of Europe where the UK COVID variant may be accelerating the spread of the virus.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Parents rallied Tuesday to demand Erie County ease social distancing rules in schools and allow students to attend full time, while county officials maintained the decision is out of their hands.

Schofield Adult Day Health Care

New York state has allowed doctor’s offices to remain open during the pandemic and reopened day programs for the developmentally disabled. It’s even loosened visitor restrictions at nursing homes.


Yet Adult Day Health Care, which provides medical services and socialization for disabled adults of all ages, has remained closed since the pandemic began. This week marked one year since the state ordered the programs to close, and now families are speaking out.

In November, health officials in the United Kingdom identified a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, and it quickly became known as the "UK variant."  And it has quickly become a problem for Americans. According to Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the "UK variant" is likely to become the dominant variant in the United States by early April. "A paper published in the British Medical Journal just this past week proves this variant is associated with about a 64-percent higher risk of dying," Nielsen said in her weekly conversation with WBFO. Its spread in this country, Nielsen asserts, underscores the need to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Erie County’s COVID-19 infection rate has been falling since January and about a quarter of county residents have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. So Republicans in the county Legislature are questioning why County Executive Mark Poloncarz still has emergency powers.

According to a new survey, most doctors are feeling fatigue after a year of dealing with Covid-19 while nearly as many say the vaccine rollout is negatively affecting their mental health. The poll was conducted by the Canadian Medical Association, but Dr. Nancy Nielsen is finding a similar impact among local health care professionals.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The American Rescue Plan Act, recently passed by the Senate and awaiting approval from the House of Representatives, is set to provide $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief. How much of it will be coming to Western New York?

US Veteran's Admin/File photo

The KeyBank Center downtown will host a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic for people over 65 years of age next week, becoming the third large-scale distribution point in Erie County.

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

New York lawmakers are looking to pass sweeping nursing home reforms this legislative session in light of COVID-19. One piece of legislation that predates the pandemic is a safe staffing bill, which would mandate nursing homes meet minimum staffing-to-patio ratios.

Federal health officials are expected to approve distribution of a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. "This could be a game changer," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Erie County

Erie County’s COVID-19 infection and hospital rates continue to decline, but a more dangerous variant of the virus has now been confirmed in the county. 


Southern Administrative Services

The Green House Project, a national network of small nursing homes, has received plenty of attention for its low rates of COVID-19 during the pandemic. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study recently called it a “promising model” for the reinvention of nursing homes in a post-pandemic world.


But just how replicable is it? Providers and advocates say there are still plenty of financial hurdles to cross before more nursing homes look like Green House homes. 



Beth Adams/WXXI News

COVID-19 has killed over 13,000 nursing home residents in New York state alone, and about a third of all U.S. COVID deaths have been linked to skilled nursing facilities. But a group of small nursing homes, including a facility near Rochester, have fared better against the virus than their larger, more traditional counterparts. 



Darren McGree/Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent most of his COVID-19 briefing Monday defending his administration’s handling of nursing homes, but, amid growing scrutiny over his own actions, he also for the first time endorsed limiting how much nursing homes can profit over resident care.


Darren McGee/Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo broke days of silence over escalating accusations that he and his top aides deliberately withheld for months key COVID-19 death numbers of nursing home residents who succumbed to the virus. He apologized to families of residents who died in the homes during the pandemic for the anxiety that the withholding of those numbers created.

US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Erie County officials say that the county is anticipating a shipment of 1,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week for individuals with qualifying comorbidities and underlying conditions to be distributed through hospitals, and has also received enough to begin rescheduling some appointments that were cancelled on Jan. 23.

Santora's Pizza Pub & Grill

COVID restrictions are being loosened to allow bars and restaurants in New York to remain open an extra hour starting this weekend.

US Veteran's Admin/File photo

  In recent weeks, state leaders including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul have insisted New York will distribute its supply of COVID vaccine with community health equity in mind. Leaders in Buffalo’s Black community speak of the need to build trust in the drug, and in the healthcare system. While the general attitude toward the vaccine seems more positive within the Latino community, those serving it say there's a lot to be desired with the current distribution system.

Mutant strains of the coronavirus are challenging public health efforts around the world. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, says one strain is creating problems in South Africa where the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine has been found to be only '"minimally protective."  Nielsen is confident vaccine makers will be able to develop booster shots to combat new virus strains but the development highlights the need to have people vaccinated.  "This is a race against time. Because the more people we get vaccinated with what we have now and what comes down the pike in a couple of weeks, the quicker we're going to stop this virus from mutating."

AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

Citing the success of the Buffalo Bills two home playoff games, Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state will approve the reopening of mass gatherings sites later this month

New York State Senate Republicans

Republicans in the New York State Legislature, in their effort to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes, are turning to a somewhat unlikely ally: President Joe Biden.


Yuki Iwamura / AP

report from New York’s attorney general finds that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration may have undercounted by as much as 50% the number of the state’s nursing home residents who died at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York last spring. The news has led the Republican leader of the state Senate to call for the state health commissioner’s resignation.

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

The New York State Attorney General’s Office report released Thursday, which found the state Department of Health may have underreported nursing home COVID-19 deaths by 50%, makes plenty of mentions about Western New York nursing homes’ struggle to provide personal protective equipment and follow infection protocols during the pandemic.