We’ve been here before.

That’s according to Dan Cody, who works in the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County and wrote his Master’s thesis on Rochester and the 1918 influenza epidemic.

Cody says there are striking parallels to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1918 influenza “spread like a spider web across America,” he said, arriving in Rochester in late September by train. Officials weren’t sure what the illness was, but they knew it was extremely infectious.

The Rochester Fringe Festival revealed its modified 2020 schedule. Festival producer Erica Fee has been in contact with many people in the arts community, and there has been some debate and confusion about safety.

We discuss the decision-making process in a major festival during a pandemic, and we explore the questions that some in the arts community are expressing. Our guest:

  • Erica Fee, producer of the Rochester Fringe Festival


For the first time in about two decades, the Buffalo Bills will not train in Pittsford, and both sides wish it wasn’t so.

The NFL has decided that all training camps must happen at team facilities this year. That’s a break from tradition for the Bills, who’ve held their camp at St. John Fisher College for two decades. They typically arrive in mid-July.

Local real estate agents are expecting that pent-up demand will create a highly competitive housing market now that the Finger Lakes region is in phase two of reopening. 


The pandemic is forcing small businesses everywhere to reimagine how they operate, and Laughing Gull Chocolates in Rochester is no different. 

The East Main Street shop is owned by three young moms: Karla Boyle, Allison Zukoski and Lindsay Tarnoff. Tarnoff said the business relied heavily on in-store chocolate- and truffle-making workshops, which had to end when the pandemic hit.

James Brown / WXXI News

Last month, state elections officials canceled the Democratic presidential primary, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres ruled that the primary must happen on June 23. 

It's the latest shift in an unusual election season, leaving Board of Elections officials like LaShana Boose scrambling to adapt.

With a little over a month before early voting starts, Boose said the board was already planning to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters as a result of an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Even with the pandemic, some business will still go on with their expansion plans. In the latest WXXI Business report, see what Greater Rochester Enterprise thinks about expanding in a pandemic, plus, Constellation Brands keeps increasing their stake in a Canadian pot-producing company.


Jared Valentine used to own a restaurant, and he has marketing experience, but in recent years, he’s been working gigs whenever he can get them. 

After he lost his seasonal job in Zagster’s operations department due to the bike-share company leaving Rochester, he found himself looking for work immediately. 

He recently answered an ad for a per diem position called "COVID relief" with Rochester Regional Health. He said he wanted to pitch in on the front lines of the pandemic. 

His interview started with a phone call.

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative has released its first results of a survey looking at what the area's most vulnerable populations are concerned about when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WXXI News and Step by Step Developmental Services


India Hedman’s daughter, Kaia, is sleeping. It’s Wednesday afternoon, and the 14-month-old is down for a nap.

Hedman picks her up out of her crib. Kaia’s head lolls against her mom’s shoulder. Her eyes stay closed.

“When she sleeps, she sleeps,” Hedman said.