Midday News Brief
Written by Doug Thompson on January 12, 2022
Batavia’s Board of Education unanimously approved many items last night, including the over $400,000 bid from Enviro-mist for disinfecting equipment. The devices also provide air purification, intended to help combat the increasing cases reported of Covid-19. Funding will come from the federal American Relief Act, which provides school districts money for various virus-related solutions.
Also during last night’s meeting, Superintendent Smith announced the district will be receiving more COVID test kits, as part of their test-to-stay policy.
The New York State Department of Health reports there are some issues regarding the quality of KN95 masks that were sent to the Monroe County area. Noteworthy is that the masks may not provide the expected level of protection from COVID but that people should continue to use them if they do not have another mask available. The Department of Health is working to distribute new masks and is also conducting an internal review of masks that are currently in storage.
In other Covid news, the state is experiencing a pattern that experts are finding hard to explain: Downstate hospitals are dealing with a majority of COVID patients; yet upstate hospitals are running out of beds. This contrast was noted yesterday when Governor Hochul ordered a halt to elective procedures in the Finger Lakes, Central New York and Mohawk Valley regions. The differences also raise questions about the usefulness and accuracy of the metrics the state has historically used to track the pandemic in hospitals. One possible reason for the regional differences could be the state-imposed vaccine mandate for health-care workers, which might have been less popular in our part of the state than downstate.
Governor Hochul reports that this most recent wave of Covid may have peaked in our state. This, in light of the fact that last week New York averaged about 75,000 cases daily; this week, 48,000 cases were reported Monday. The health department in both Genesee and Orleans Counties announced changes to contract tracing, now leaving it up to the individual to call friends and families after receiving word of a positive test, if they fall within the age of 19 and 65. The governor also urged people not to go to emergency rooms to get tested for Covid.
Governor Hochul has announced a new initiative aimed at getting more children vaccinated against COVID-19. The hashtag ‘Vax for Kids’ campaign is urging doctors, parents and guardians to do their part to prevent kids from contracting the illness. This effort will include TV, radio, and digital advertising and additional PSA’s will be released in the coming weeks. Over 1,500,000 New York children between the ages of 5 and 17 have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
County health departments are no longer being required by New York State to conduct contact tracing of people who test positive for coronavirus. State Health Commissioner Doctor Mary Bassett says this change will allow local agencies to shift resources they were using for contact tracing towards vaccination and testing efforts. The state will be issuing specific guidance today about isolation and quarantine for infected individuals. That information can be found online at ny.gov/isolation and ny.gov/quarantine.
Fans who will be watching the Buffalo Bills battle the New England Patriots in-person this weekend are going to want to wear a few extra layers. Forecasters say the temperature is expected to be in the single digits and the wind chill will make it feel even colder. When the Bills and Patriots played in Orchard Park back in December both teams had to deal with very strong wind gusts. Kickoff for Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 8:15pm.
The winless streak of the Buffalo Sabres has reached six games following a defeat at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champions. Vinnie Hinostroza had the lone goal for Buffalo as they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning six-to-one at KeyBank Center last night. The last time the Sabres won a game was back on December 16th; their record is now 10-19-6. Up next for Buffalo is a road contest against the Nashville Predators tomorrow night.
The Main Street lift bridge in Albion will close for about two years as part of an estimated $21,000,000 project that includes major repairs to the lift bridge on Route 19 in Brockport. The Albion bridge was build in 1914. it is one of 16 lift bridges on the Erie Canal, and one of 7 in Orleans County. It typically closes a few days annually for short-term repairs. The state Department of Transportation is currently reviewing bids. At this time, no schedule has been set for when the lift bridges will close and construction will start.
In 2020, an overtime threshold for farms in New York State was set at 60 hours a week. They are now again facing the prospect of another change. Assemblyman Steve Hawley, a former cash crop and livestock farmer in Batavia, expressed concern about this. He noted these days, farmer’s very existence is jeopardized unlike ever before. Hawley added, individuals pushing for lowering the overtime threshold have good intentions but miss the reality that the change will result in smaller paychecks for workers, who may end up pursuing farm jobs in other states where they can make more money. Additional virtual hearings on the subject are scheduled for January 18th and 20th. [https://dol.ny.gov/farm-laborers-wage-board-hearings]
Niagara County deputies are still trying to find the suspect involved in a deadly stabbing. Officers were called to a home on Niagara Road in Wheatfield last night after receiving a report that someone had been stabbed. They arrived to find a man had been attacked and he later passed away due to his injuries. Police believe the stabbing was the result of a dispute and say the case is being treated as a homicide.