The Toll: WNY Stories of Loss & Survival in a Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 11,300 people across Western New York. It has also claimed the lives of at least 762 people in our region. But those numbers alone do not adequately tell the story of struggle and loss in Western New York.

Each Thursday in August and September, WBFO will put faces—and voices—on the COVID-19 crisis, telling personal stories of some of the individuals whom we have lost and others who survived the disease.

These intimate interviews illustrate the widespread grief and suffering the coronavirus pandemic has brought to Western New York, as well as the resilience sprouting in its wake. The stories will also serve as a tribute to all those whose lives have been taken or altered deeply by the virus.

A small reporting team led by WBFO’s Kyle Mackie has been interviewing COVID-19 survivors and individuals who have lost family members or loved ones. If you have a COVID-19 story to share, please email Mackie at kmackie@wbfo.org

Left: Courtesy of Ondrea Pate; Right: Courtesy of Victoria D'Angelo

More than 40% of the country’s now more than 180,000 COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes, according to a New York Times database. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki has been covering the impact on local nursing homes throughout the pandemic. In this week's story from “The Toll,” he spoke to family members who lost loved ones in two local long-term care facilities.

 

Left: Courtesy of Kate Glaser/Sarah Bridgeman Photography; Right: Courtesy of Kate Glaser

Similar to older adults and people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant people face a greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than the general public. This week on “The Toll,” WBFO’s Kyle Mackie reports the story of an Amherst woman who contracted COVID-19 during her last week of pregnancy earlier this summer.


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.


Left: Courtesy of Tina Grato; Right: Courtesy of Kelly Frothingham

In the second story of WBFO’s new series, “The Toll: Western New York Stories of Loss & Survival in a Pandemic,” two daughters remember the veteran parents they lost earlier this year to COVID-19.

Left: Luke Copping Photography; Right: Courtesy of Pompea Disanto-Owens

In the first story of WBFO’s new series, “The Toll: Western New York Stories of Loss & Survival in a Pandemic,” reporter Kyle Mackie sheds light on one unusually strong relationship forged at the hospital bedside of a COVID-19 patient.