Morning News Briefing
Written by Michael Baldwin on December 8, 2020
130 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Genesee County. The Health department says the new infections involve people living in Batavia, LeRoy and 11 other communities. Twenty-one people are hospitalized. Health officials have also recorded three more virus-related deaths. One is a resident at The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Batavia. Two of the deaths were community members. All three individuals were over the age of 65. In Orleans County, 32 new positive cases have been confirmed with nine hospitalizations. The Health Department in Wyoming County has confirmed forty-three new cases between Friday and Monday.
Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) joined a bipartisan letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees calling for additional funding for the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) ReConnect rural broadband grant program in the upcoming FY21 funding bill. Jacobs said he has long advocated for increased broadband investment and the pandemic has only elevated that need.
Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.16, up 3 cents from one week ago. The New York State average is $2.25 – up 2 cents from last week. In Batavia, a gallon costs $2.22, up 3 cents since last week. The national average price for a gallon of gas has inched up 4 cents in the past month, but it is 42 cents lower than last year at this time. Since mid-November, domestic crude prices have steadily increased topping $45 per barrel, contributing to pump prices rising across the country.
Sen. Charles Schumer is asking President-elect Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for federal student loan borrowers as soon as he is sworn in. At a news conference Monday, Schumer said Biden could do this by using existing executive authority under the Higher Education Act. Schumer said canceling this debt would bring immediate relief to millions of New Yorkers struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative would cover only debtors making less than $125,000 a year.
New York will limit indoor dining if the hospitalization rate does not stabilize. Hospitalization rates in Upstate New York regions have been on the rise, with a higher percentage of the population than in regions downstate. The Finger Lakes region leads in hospitalizations involving 545 people. The governor said if the hospitalization rate in regions outside of New York City does not stabilize, indoor dining will be limited to 25 percent.
In-person staffing at courts in New York will be reduced as a result of rising COVID-19 cases. In a message released Monday, the Chief Judge said courts outside of New York City will be reduced to 40% or less in-person staffing. In-person services will also be limited. Non-essential in-person appearances in civil courts will be temporarily suspended, and only a reduced number of in-person, essential appearances for criminal, family and housing courts will be allowed. The Chief Judge said courts are being encouraged to utilize virtual court appearances when possible.