WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Brett Dahlberg

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 and before landing at WXXI, he was an intern at WNYC and with Ian Urbina of the New York Times. 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.

Since April, New York state has required people to wear masks when they are outside of their own homes and cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from each other.

That rule has two exceptions: Children under 2 years old, and people who cannot “medically tolerate a face-covering” are not required to wear masks.

The first exception is clear, but the second remains open for interpretation even months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order took effect, said Dr. Mical Raz, a professor of history and health policy at the University of Rochester.

About a quarter of the COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Monroe County recently are imported, according to the county public health department.

Local epidemiologists said that’s much higher than the proportion a couple of months ago, when community spread was responsible for the vast majority of known cases in the county.

Growing knowledge about COVID-19 has changed the way doctors in Monroe County treat patients with the disease.

A study at the University of Rochester Medical Center into the effectiveness of a potential COVID-19 treatment has ended without enrolling a single participant.

Researchers in Rochester have begun a trial of a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

Phase one of the three-phase trial is testing the vaccine on about 40 people, said Dr. Edward Walsh, the infectious disease physician who's leading the trial.

One of those test subjects is Becky Timmons, who got her first dose of the vaccine at Rochester General Hospital on Thursday.

As demonstrators gathered in downtown Rochester last week in protests against police brutality spurred by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Dr. Linda Clark started to get nervous.

Clark, the president of the Black Physician’s Network of Greater Rochester, said she was concerned that the protests would bring members of Monroe County’s black community -- already at high risk of dying from COVID-19 -- into closer contact with more people, spreading the disease even further.

Then, she thought of the long-term implications of the demonstrations.

More than half of the residents at the Elm Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canandaigua tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the Ontario County public health department said Thursday.

“It’s like wildfire in a place like that,” said Ontario County public health director Mary Beer. “It's a very, very contagious virus. People need to be aware, whether they're in a nursing home or not.”

Today’s nurses are finding themselves saddled with responsibilities that were not part of their education.

Pandemic preparation “has not really been part of the core curriculum,” said University of Rochester nursing school dean Kathy Rideout.

Still, Rideout said, skills like teamwork and problem-solving that are key to navigating any unfamiliar situation -- including the COVID-19 pandemic -- have long been a part of nursing education.