Morning News Brief

Written by on January 15, 2021

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Genesee County. Both victims resided at Premier Genesee Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation. They were both over age 65. Health officials say 49 new positive cases have been confirmed in 13 communities. Ten of the positive individuals are hospitalized. In Orleans County, 50 new cases were confirmed on Thursday with 17 people hospitalized. The upward trend also continues in Wyoming County, where 39 more positive cases were reported. The county reports 35 deaths.

New York State continues to administer the COVID-19 vaccination. However, the state is only receiving 300,000 doses a week, with a statewide population of more than 19 million. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul says she believes the distribution will ramp up soon. Local Public Health Director Paul Pettit calls the current distribution method frustrating.

34-year-old Chad Michael Johnston of Washington Avenue in Batavia has been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree — a stimulant. At 1:07 a.m. Thursday Johnston was arrested. He was observed by Genesee County Emergency dispatchers in the vestibule of the Sheriff’s Office on Park Road in Batavia. While there, he was allegedly observed on video footage using a lighter in the corner. Upon further investigation, deputies said he was allegedly found in possession of seven baggies of crack cocaine. It was also found that Johnston allegedly used the lighter to light a glass pipe to smoke the crack cocaine while inside the vestibule.

Several high school sports deemed high-risk are still on hold. However, a renewed push looks to change that. On Thursday, several state lawmakers joined together, backing legislation to reinstate all high school sports. The lawmakers said “Governor Cuomo focused his State of the State message this week on the need for reopening our local economies and to start getting the lives of New Yorkers as back to normal as possible now.  For New York State’s high school student-athletes and their families, coaches, and entire school communities, that means to let sports seasons get started. The letter, which notes that New York is one of only seven states prohibiting high school sports, says that…Given the fact that a number of sections and leagues moved and delayed the start of their sports seasons to January 2021, they highly encourage Cuomo and others to adopt a realistic, comprehensive and evidence-based model which would allow all student-athletes to safely resume their sport NOW.

A Cheektowaga man has been charged with two misdemeanors for his alleged actions during an incident at the U.S. Capitol last week. 47-year-old Pete Harding, was arraigned Thursday on two misdemeanor counts – knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. He is the first person from Western New York to be charged after being at the Capitol during the attack that left five people dead.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has announced that just shy of $25 million in federal funding has been secured for the Poison Control Program. Gillibrand originally called for $30.1 million to support the nationwide network of 55 Poison Control Centers (PCCs). As public health and addiction support services operate on thin margins, according to Gillibrand’s office, she says these increased federal funds will be used to provide life-saving health care services in every state.

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