Brett Dahlberg

Health reporter and producer

Brett is the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Before landing at WXXI, he was an intern at WNYC, and he also produced freelance reporting work focused on health and science in New York City. 

Brett grew up in Bremerton, Washington, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.


Ways to Connect

Chris Hodges, the principal of Gaylord High School in Otsego County, Michigan, never thought he'd be a contact tracer.

"I definitely thought, you know, 'Why — why am I doing this?'" he says with a laugh. "That's not what I went to school for."

COVID-19 cases are spreading so fast that they're outpacing the contact-tracing capacities of some local health departments. Faced with mounting case loads, those departments are asking people who test positive for the novel coronavirus to do their own contact tracing.

The contact tracers of Washtenaw County in Michigan have been deluged with work.

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Monroe County needs more coronavirus testing capacity to prepare for the start of the school year, county public health commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said on Friday.

Students who have any symptoms of COVID-19 either need a positive coronavirus test to start isolation until they're no longer contagious, or a negative test and a note from a health care provider after their symptoms resolve, to go back to school, according to the health department's instructions.

Mendoza said the number of tests required to meet those needs will likely exceed the current capacity of diagnostic laboratories in the county.

"Based on our estimates, we're going to need to have about 1,000 additional tests per day," he said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Science Source / NPR

The Monroe County Department of Public Health is urging young people who attended a large party at a home in Pittsford on Sunday, August 23 to contact health officials after one person who was at that gathering tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The department found out about the party on Thursday night and was still working to determine how many people were at the party on Friday, but initial estimates put attendance "in the order of several dozens," commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Dr. Ann Falsey, one of the principal investigators of the vaccine treatment and evaluation unit at the University of Rochester, sees a consistent problem in her research.

“We’ll get a thousand people who want to be part of vaccine studies,” Falsey said. “Ninety-nine percent of them will be white people who live in the suburbs.”

Monroe County Department of Public Health

The Monroe County public health department has stopped publishing county-level COVID-19 hospitalization statistics daily. The county health department said this week that it will instead report regional figures from the nine-county Finger Lakes region that New York state uses to assess reopening readiness. 

The health department had been receiving multiple census files from hospitals in the county and communicating directly with hospital staff to compile the local numbers in its daily reports. “We are no longer doing that,” said spokesperson Julie Philipp.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

The number of people in intensive care units for COVID-19 treatment in Monroe County reached its highest point in almost two months on Thursday, according to figures from the county health department.

The county said there were 10 people with COVID-19 on ventilators for life support. It’s the first time in almost two months that ICU numbers have been in the double digits, but it’s still far below the peak of the local epidemic in April and May.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The U.S. government has set out new goals for the nation’s health over the next decade. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 plan lays out 355 objectives for improving health.

The goals supersede the more than 1,000 targets of Healthy People 2020, which guided health policy for the last decade.

Ontario County Department of Public Health

The Ontario County public health department said Tuesday that it found a “small cluster” of three people with COVID-19 at a Tim Hortons in Canandaigua.

Each of the three is an employee at the restaurant, the health department said in a press release. “Employees are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 because of the difficulty in maintaining a six-foot radius from fellow workers,” the department said.

Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

School districts in the Rochester area said Monday that they should not appear on a list, published by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, of districts that have not submitted reopening plans.

The governor’s office published the list of 107 districts shortly after Cuomo held a briefing late Monday morning. “How they didn't submit a plan is beyond me,” he said.