Updated at 3 p.m. ET

President Trump said Friday that state governors should allow churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship to reopen immediately.

In brief comments at the White House, Trump said houses of worship are "essential places that provide essential services." Churches have faced restrictions for gatherings and ceremonies as public health officials worked to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Some have chafed at the restrictions.

WBFO file photo

The Erie County Legislature has joined the call for an independent investigation into how New York state has handled the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.

MB Internal Studio / Old Navy / NCPR

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is continuing her push to have Western New York residents follow the rules and keep COVID-19 at bay.

Chris Caya / WBFO News

It is going to be very different at Canalside this Memorial Day, in the the first unofficial weekend of summer under COVID-19 rules.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

It lacked the large parade of vehicles circling Niagara Square while horns were blaring, but those showing up in downtown Buffalo this time sent the same message as one month ago: all businesses are essential and need reopening now.

File photo

Memorial Day weekend begins with it beaches opening up and other tentative steps to restart the economy. In his daily coronavirus briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the reopenings can be done safely if people follow the rules.

The McGuire Group

The McGuire Group announced Thursday that Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Williamsville is now exclusively taking care of residents sick with COVID-19.


Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET

The U.S. could have prevented roughly 36,000 deaths from COVID-19 if broad social distancing measures had been put in place just one week earlier in March, according to an analysis from Columbia University.

Underlining the importance of aggressively responding to the coronavirus, the study found the U.S. could have avoided at least 700,000 fewer infections if actions that began on March 15 had actually started on March 8.

John Minchillo / Associated Press

On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department reported the United States is still losing jobs at an alarming pace two months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold. That includes millions of people still out of work as upstate New York slowly starts to reopen its economy. New research suggests low-income renters are among the hardest hit.

New York State

The unofficial start of summer kicks off this year under pandemic rules applying to the streets, parks and beaches.

File Photo / WBFO News

With no prior notice, Buffalo Public Schools on Wednesday unanimously approved a fundamental change in education, a change the school board wants to put into effect in the fall of next year.

Mike Desmond

New York will allow small religious gatherings starting Thursday as the state gradually loosens restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his Wednesday briefing.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Erie County's troubled finances go in front of the legislature again Thursday, with little resolution in sight other than massive cuts in spending and staff. That may happen, unless there is some agreement in Washington on a state and local government bailout along the lines of what has been given to American business.


Walmart and Quest Diagnostics are expanding their partnership to get Western New Yorkers tested for the coronavirus.

Two-thirds of Americans do not expect their daily lives to return to normal for at least six months, and as states reopen, three-quarters are concerned that a second wave of coronavirus cases will emerge, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

"There's a great sense that normalcy is not around the corner," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll.

WBFO file photo/Thomas O'Neil-White

Under a proposal co-sponsored by State Senator Patrick Gallivan, future declarations of emergency by the governor would have a set time limit and would include submissions of weekly updates that would be reviewed by legislators.

New York State

The first day of Western New York's restart went well, according to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Chautauqua County

The five counties of the state's Western New York economic region are in the first day of opening under Phase One. Leaders, eager to ensure their respective counties continue on a path toward gradual reopening of more businesses and institutions, are urging the public to continue following guidelines in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

File Photo / WBFO News

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is among 16 hospitals in New York State to allow visitors as part of a pilot program addressing the heartbreak of COVID-19 patients isolated from their families and friends.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The local construction industry has not been shut down in the last two months, but more than half of the work stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic. That changes Tuesday, with the sector part of Phase 1 of the state's reopening strategy.

University at Buffalo

Erie County is starting to move aggressively into antibody testing of residents.

There is going to be a rush to re-start Niagara County, now that Albany is allowing Phase One to start, especially construction and manufacturing. 

As businesses reopen, many Americans being called back to work say they don't feel safe — especially those who work in restaurants, hair salons or other high-contact jobs.

"With people eating food, not having masks on, with servers having to touch their plates and their silverware, there's just absolutely no way to keep the servers safe," says Lindsey, a waitress in Iowa.

She has been out of work for two months. But this week, the pub-style restaurant she works at is reopening.

File photo

Parts of New York state are gradually reopening, with western New York authorized on Monday to join five other regions of the state and begin the first of a four-phase process. The Capital Region will be allowed to begin reopening on Tuesday. 

Marshall Gilmore finally got what he'd been waiting for this month when the state of Mississippi allowed him to offer table service again at his restaurant, the Harvest Grill in Meridian.

Still, many of his tables sit empty, even at limited capacity, and he makes most of his money offering curbside food pickup.

"People are just a little apprehensive about getting out in public. This was a once-in-a-lifetime scare that we all just went through. So everyone's a little scared," Gilmore says.

Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

Western New York has met all of the required metrics required by the state to begin the first phase of reopening from the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced late Monday morning.

Buffalo State College

The Golisano Foundation said it is distributing $426,300 in a first round of COVID-19 response grants to Western New York organizations.

In New York, no one can be evicted before Aug. 20. What happens on Aug. 20?

“You know what, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen two, three months down the road, but I can tell you, whatever happens, we will handle it at the time,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a briefing.

However, advocates for both renters and landlords predict eviction courts to be busy.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a plea on Sunday for more New Yorkers who qualify to get tested for COVID-19, even undergoing his own test for the disease on live, national television during his daily briefing in Albany.

Niagara Falls, ON

There is a big push on both sides of the Niagara River to get economies going, particularly as warm weather starts, when ordinarily millions of tourists would be coming through.