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.

The Monroe County public health department and the nonprofit organization Common Ground Health launched an online survey on Thursday to track COVID-19 symptoms in the Finger Lakes region.

County public health commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said he wants people across the region to take the survey daily, even if they don’t have any symptoms of the disease.

He said current data points lag behind reality.

With a surge in COVID-19 cases yet to materialize, many hospital beds in Monroe County and the surrounding region are empty.

The push for physical distancing has been successful, hospital leaders and public officials said. Closing businesses and shutting down schools averted a crisis, at least for now.


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.

As the need for protective gear like masks and gloves increases with the spread of COVID-19, local hospitals have said their supply chain has remained intact.

For some people outside of hospitals, though, it’s been increasingly difficult to get access to that equipment.

As hospitals work to make room for an anticipated wave of COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, some parts of their operations have become eerily empty.

In the pediatric emergency department at Golisano Children’s Hospital, there’s still a dull hum of machinery under the intermittent beeps of monitors. But Dr. Elizabeth Murray says it’s a far cry from the usual cacophony.


As the number of COVID-19 cases grows in western New York and the Finger Lakes, the supply of protective gear for medical workers is dwindling.

In particular, N95 masks, which health care workers use to protect themselves against the virus in close clinical settings, are running low.

Doctors and administrators at local health care systems have been quick to temper concerns, saying there is not an immediate crisis, but they are worried about running out of important equipment before supplies can be replenished.


The Monroe County health department said it learned Wednesday night of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 and arrived in Rochester on a Delta Airlines flight over the weekend.

The Monroe County health department announced that a patient at Rochester General Hospital has died from COVID-19.

The is the first known local death caused by the coronavirus.

Veronica Chiesi Brown, a spokesperson for Rochester Regional Health, said the patient was an employee at Rochester General Hospital. The company described him as a 54-year-old man with "multiple, serious underlying conditions" including hypertension, liver disease and tobacco use.

The Trump administration has decided to cut federal support for local programs that have been testing a new model of funding medical care.

The programs, which exist across the state and are overseen locally by the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System, have been working on a shift from the traditional fee-for-service model to a value-based model.

In the fee-for-service model, which underlies Medicaid, health care providers tell the federal government what procedures they did and what medicines they used, and the government reimburses them. Critics say this prioritizes quantity of care over quality of care.

New York state has confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday night.

The case is in a woman in her mid-30s who contracted the virus while traveling in Iran, the governor said.

The state health department said the woman is in Manhattan. She has the respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, but "is not in serious condition," Cuomo said.