WBFO Health & Wellness Desk


For a region to thrive, its people need to be healthy; inadequacies in health and wellness have a range of social and economic consequences that affect many members of our community. Health inequality, cancer clusters, and high rates of heart disease and obesity are all part of the fabric of WNY, as much as the world-class research and treatment providers that are becoming a growing part of the region’s economic power. WBFO is committed to providing listeners with incisive reports on all of these issues that affect their lives.

The Health & Wellness New Desk is funded by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York.



Opioid deaths are up in Erie County after multiple years of decline. But that’s not all. County officials are concerned with the rise in cocaine related overdoses.

Delavan Grider Community Center / Facebook

New York State, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will begin distributing COVID vaccinations at the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo. But beginning Wednesday morning, Buffalo residents living in certain neighborhoods are given the opportunity to be the first to schedule appointments.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office has announced two cases of the UK variant of the coronavirus have been reported in Erie County.

Luann Thibodeau

Residents of nursing homes in New York state will be able to have visitors again, starting this Friday, Feb. 26, under new rules laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state health officials.

Buffalo Zoo

Elephants are a favorite animals of people who like to watch the huge mammals roam vast plains and use their long trunks for food and water. What’s different about elephants is that they can get cancer, but don’t die from it.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Unions representing nursing home employees are urging Albany lawmakers to support reforms that, they say, would create greater transparency among operators, and require more investment back into staffing and direct care. Pickets and silent vigils were held at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across New York State Thursday to raise awareness and support.

Office of the Governor

Four new mass vaccination sites will open across upstate New York and the New York City suburbs in the coming weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, after the federal government committed to another boost in doses for states this week.

City of Toronto / YouTube

As the province of Ontario moves to ease COVID-19 restrictions in some regions, the City of Toronto is saying no. Senior health and political leaders want the tough restrictions to remain in place longer than planned.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched an attack on one of the critics of his nursing home policies: Assemblymember Ron Kim, who lost his uncle to COVID-19 in a nursing home. Cuomo said Kim’s disagreements over nursing home policies is really about an old feud over a bill to regulate nail salons.

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.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

On a day when state pop-up COVID vaccination clinics occurred on Buffalo’s West Side and East Side, key issues of healthcare in the city were online. It was the latest of a series of virtual Town Hall meetings, this time with the overall focus on vaccinations in the minority community.

USA Swimming

Swimming, both recreational and competitive, has taken a heavy hit during the long pandemic. However, USA Swimming is trying to turn that around and get people back into the water.

University of Rochester

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced 35 community-based pop-up COVID-19 vaccination sites, including five in the Western New York available Thursday and Friday.

Two more local lawmakers have announced they tested positive for the coronavirus.

Office of the Governor

A winter storm caused state vaccination sites to close Monday in the downstate area, but ones in upstate remained open. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a briefing, also blamed the federal government for ongoing glitches in the state’s vaccine rollout.


If you’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine and feel the need to show off your vaccination card on social media, the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York offers this message: don’t.

Toronto Pearson Airport

The Canadian government has announced tougher measures aimed at international travelers to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Those measures come into effect this week. However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he won’t wait and is implementing measures Monday.

WBFO file photo

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and its partners are rolling out a new program that will increase access to cancer care by people living in remote or underserved communities. Among the populations on which this program will place emphasis are Western New York’s Indigenous communities.

Science Table

Health officials in Ontario have issued a new warning about the coronavirus. They say recent modeling suggests the highly contagious UK variant will be the dominant strain in the province in about a month and new variants are possible.

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.

WBFO file photo

People ages 65 and older may receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but the Erie County Health Department has been instructed not to be the distributor. Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein explained this to county legislators Thursday, while also expressing concerns for upcoming school breaks, when many families embark on out-of-state travel.

Thomas O'Neil-White

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions in the state’s Orange and Yellow zones. He is also developing a plan to allow limited indoor dining in New York City.

Screenshot / You Tube

New analyses of COVID-19 data in Erie County shows more people have died in the last four months from the virus than in the first six months of the pandemic.

WBFO file photo

The American Lung Association is giving New York State mixed grades in its latest report on tobacco prevention, the 19th annual “State of Tobacco Control.”

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a briefing at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Monday afternoon that Western New York is doing much better in dealing with COVID-19 than it has been. He said that means the ban on elective surgery has been lifted and the state Health Department on Wednesday may ease the restrictions of Orange status for most of the region.


The state Senate chair of the Committee on Investigations is threatening to subpoena Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner, if he does not provide data on how many nursing home residents died in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic surge in New York last spring.

Thomas O'Neil-White

Acknowledging that racism is a public health threat to communities of color, the Buffalo Common Council and local healthcare advocacy groups are prioritizing the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to the city’s Black and Brown communities.

WBFO file photo

Erie County Health Department officials announced Monday that after reviewing guidance first announced Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, high school sports deemed "higher risk" could proceed, but with certain conditions included.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

One of New York State's pop-up COVID vaccination sites provided first doses to qualified individuals inside a downtown Buffalo church for several hours Monday. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul visited St. John Baptist Church on Goodell Street, where she renewed the state's concern for a lack of supply to meet the demand.

Fred Froese / iStockphoto via NPR

It may sound easy: vaccinate nursing home staff and residents against COVID-19 and the horrors of the last year will recede into the history books. But a local doctor says, it’s not that simple.