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Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Chief

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment and interviews newsmakers. 

Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.

She is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year for 2009 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Karen is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo broke days of silence over escalating accusations that he and his top aides, for months, deliberately withheld key COVID-19 death numbers of nursing home residents who succumbed to the virus. He apologized to families of residents who died in the homes during the pandemic for the anxiety that the withholding of those numbers created.

New York political leaders on both sides of the aisle are calling for actions, including a criminal investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his top aides and an end to the governor’s emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The outcry follows a New York Post report that the governor’s chief of staff said during a private meeting that the administration deliberately withheld key data on nursing home deaths during the pandemic.

Denise Young/WXXI News

  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and officials from President Joe Biden’s administration announced Wednesday that they will open mass vaccination sites in medically underserved areas, beginning in Queens and Brooklyn, and later opening ones upstate. 

Cuomo said the sites will open Feb. 24 in partnership with the federal government and will be placed in two locations hit hard by the virus last spring. He hopes it will result in more African American and Latino New Yorkers receiving the vaccine.

The New York State Senate advanced several bills that would address problems in the state’s nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, as outlined in a recent attorney general’s report that also found Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration significantly undercounted nursing home deaths.

The package of 10 bills approved by the Senate Health Committee would, among other things, require the Cuomo administration’s health department to report deaths of all residents of nursing homes and other adult care facilities, even if they died in the hospital.

For the first time, the New York State Health Department has released data showing that nearly 15,000 nursing home residents and others living at adult long-term care facilities died of COVID-19. The data was released following a court order demanding its disclosure.

The lawsuit to release the numbers was successfully brought by the Empire Center, a government watchdog group, after a Freedom of Information request to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration stalled.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that state-run vaccination sites will begin accepting appointments for immunocompromised New Yorkers, beginning Feb. 14.

Cuomo had already announced that people with underlying conditions will become eligible for the vaccine on Feb. 15. Those conditions include cancer, heart conditions, COPD, chronic kidney disease, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, moderate to severe asthma, and people with intellectual and development disabilities, organ transplant recipients, and people who are morbidly obese.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expanding the list of New Yorkers who will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

He said people with co-morbidities -- as defined by the Centers for Disease Control -- will be able to sign up for appointments starting Feb. 15.

The governor also said that African-Americans and Latinos are getting vaccinated at a lower rate than whites or Asians, and he wants to correct that.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, continuing his push to win several billion dollars in aid in the next federal COVID-19 relief package, wrote a letter to New York’s congressional delegation, saying the funding is “paramount” to the state’s recovery. 

Cuomo said the state faces a $15 billion deficit for the current fiscal year and the next one, which begins in April. And he said unless President Joe Biden and Congress approve a bailout for state and local governments, there will have to be across-the-board cuts to state programs, including education.

Republican State Senators and some family members of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 say they are still looking for answers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Administration, one week after a scathing report from the state’s attorney general that found twice as many nursing home residents died of the disease than what the state reported. They are urging majority party Democrats to subpoena the governor’s health commissioner for more information and calling for a thorough investigation of the over 12,700 deaths.

Governor Cuomo's office

A winter storm caused state vaccination sites to close Monday in the downstate area, but ones in upstate remained open.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a briefing, blamed the federal government for ongoing glitches in the state’s vaccine rollout.

The state’s vaccination program continues to be plagued by problems, and new data from New York City shows that people of color are receiving the vaccination at lower rates than white people.

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