COVID

YouTube/Erie County

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday the state would take a few more days to determine whether to elevate Western New York's current COVID orange zones into shutdown red zones. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also addressed this, while the Erie County Health Commissioner displayed a model predicting how no restrictions might affect local hospitals.

YouTube/Erie County

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz declared Thursday that COVID case numbers continue to increase, and he predicts a "dark time" in the coming weeks.

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An announcement was expected Wednesday that Erie County, which has seen a rise in COVID case numbers, will move from "yellow zone" status to orange or possibly red. That change would mean many institutions which were able to reopen a few short months ago would be ordered to close again.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and local elected leaders sitting on her Western New York Zone COVID Control Room panel are sending a renewed warning to the public: don't let up on prevention practices or else the region may head into even stricter restrictions, including a new shutdown of non-essential businesses.

Erie County

A large section of Erie County was officially designated a COVID cluster yellow zone by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday. While businesses and schools remain open, there are some new guidelines for those institutions to follow. There's also a warning from the Erie County Executive that a further rise in COVID numbers could lead to another public shutdown.

Two members of Congress, one from each major party, offered their thoughts on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's suggestion that if a COVID relief package agreement with the Trump Administration couldn't be reached within the next 48 hours, a deal will be unlikely until after Election Day.

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Canada announced this week it will expand family-related exemptions for entering that country from the United States. Congressman Brian Higgins has written the Trump Administration seeking a similar relaxation of restrictions to enter the United States.

Kaleida Health

Citing a community spread of COVID, Olean General Hospital announced Tuesday it is temporarily halting all visitations, with the exception of end-of-life patients and individuals designated as support persons for maternity patients.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Families with kids in Buffalo schools will soon have an opportunity to place them in safe virtual learning environments, while solving potentially child care concerns created by the pandemic.

WBFO file photo/Eileen Buckley

While the Centers for Disease Control considers Halloween trick-or-treating a risky idea this year, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says no decision has been made yet on the popular tradition. But city officials are worried about large gatherings amid a subdued but continuing pandemic.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

People in danger of losing their homes, because they lost their means to make payments during the pandemic, will be able to apply for financial assistance to get caught up. Leaders announcing a new rent and mortgage assistance program Monday hope it will ease a wave of anticipated evictions or foreclosures weeks from now.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A new campaign is getting underway to encourage continued compliance with guidelines set to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and give small businesses a fighting chance as they claw back from the pandemic.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

In Erie County alone, the tourism industry is estimated at $1.8 billion. But it has taken a big hit with the COVID pandemic. A new bill is being introduced in Albany to help the industry recover by creating a new funding source to aid related businesses.

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With autumn officially arriving next Tuesday, Erie County lawmakers are proposing the use of federal CARES relief money to help establishments set up outdoor dining spaces during the winter months.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

New York State is distributing $9 million dollars to 66 organizations that host in-demand job skills training. State government representatives appeared Tuesday at Erie 1 BOCES, one of the recipients, to announce the Workforce Development Initiative funding. 

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Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed rumors Tuesday that Halloween trick-or-treating might be canceled next month due to the pandemic, declaring he has no intention of preventing kids from making their annual door-to-door quest for candy.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Continued economic uncertainty in many households has more New Yorkers relying on assistance from food pantries. That was a message relayed Friday by three elected representatives during a visit to a Cheektowaga church where needs are rising both for food handouts and volunteer assistance.

Chautauqua County leaders are urging the public to avoid large gatherings this Labor Day holiday weekend, while offering mixed news on COVID cases in two of the county's known clusters.

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Overall travel dropped sharply in the spring and early summer as the result of the COVID pandemic but, according to the AAA of Western and Central New York, a wide majority of vacation travel this year has been kept within New York State and done by car. Heading into the Labor Day holiday weekend, the AAA expects this trend to continue.

Facebook/Chautauqua County

Chautauqua County leaders say more than half of the employees of a Dunkirk food production facility were tested earlier this week for COVID, with 24 results coming back positive. Officials also explained why they have deemed it unnecessary to close the plant at this time.

WBFO/Michael Mroziak

Dozens of state lawmakers were out across New York State Thursday, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release approximately $80 million in remaining federal relief for childcare centers.

The Fleetwood Mac Experience, used with permission

Musicians who depend on the income from live, ticketed indoor shows are urging the Cuomo Administration to lift the COVID-related ban currently keeping them from performing on stage, or telling their followers of upcoming gigs.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash says the decision Wednesday night by school board members to open the new year with an all-remote format was "extraordinary, inclusive, systematic and thoughtful." He and school board members stood outside City Hall Thursday morning to further explain the decision and field questions about other preparations.

Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

A coalition of gym and fitness center operators has submitted a reopening plan to the Cuomo Administration, along with the message that such facilities are capable of operating safely and should be allowed to resume business.

WBFO/Michael Mroziak

After serving as a COVID-only hospital since mid March, the Sister Hospital St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga resumed services over the weekend including its emergency department, acute care, and outpatient procedures, Catholic Health announced Monday.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Erie County leaders held a conference call Thursday with representatives of the Buffalo Bisons, Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball to discuss ground rules for when Buffalo is scheduled to begin serving as the Blue Jays' temporary home. That meeting left local leaders feeling good about the measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Buffalo. But then a short while later, the Jays announced their weekend games were postponed.

WBFO file photo

The Ameican Red Cross WNY is calling on anyone who recently recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma, for its use to treat current patients throughout the nation.

WBFO file photo

Buffalo Bills fans, along with fans of other New York-based pro and college sports teams, won't be allowed to attend home games this season, nor are they permitted by state health guidelines to congregate outside the stadium. But what about private lots near the Bills' home stadium?

WBFO/Michael Mroziak

The City of Niagara Falls will provide funding to more than a dozen programs who requested a share of the city's Federal CARES Act dollar allocation. While a federal representative was there to help share the news, he also took aim at the federal government and what he calls their failure to help the people, medically and economically, during the COVID pandemic.

WBFO/Michael Mroziak

A young additive manufacturing company based in Tonawanda welcomed Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to their facility Monday, to show her an operation which is making personal protective equipment that's being used by many first responders serving on the front lines of the COVID pandemic.

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