WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Karen DeWitt

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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his staff were in damage control mode Thursday as they faced two scandals: the governor’s handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and the months-long suppression of the true number of residents’ deaths, and allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed a former staffer. 

Two female former aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are accusing him of bad behavior, with one saying the governor sexually harassed her in incidents that included inappropriate touching and an invitation to play strip poker. Cuomo denies the allegations.

For a time in 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was considered one of the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic for his steady and focused daily briefings when national leadership was lacking.

But recently, the governor has suffered a reversal of fortune, as a scandal over the suppression of the number of nursing home deaths dominates news coverage of his administration. Additionally, a new poll finds the majority of New Yorkers now think the governor did something wrong.

Residents of nursing homes in New York state will be able to have visitors again, starting this Friday, Feb. 26, under new rules laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state health officials.

The New York State Senate is poised to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of some of his emergency pandemic powers and add an oversight commission to review the decisions the governor makes. There’s growing support for the measure as Cuomo has said that he was wrong to withhold, for months, the true number of deaths from COVID-19 at the state’s nursing homes. There are also reports of two federal probes into the state’s handling of the nursing homes during the pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched an attack on one of the critics of his nursing home policies - Assemblyman Ron Kim, who lost his uncle to COVID-19 in a nursing home. Cuomo said Kim’s disagreements over nursing home policies is really about an old feud over a bill to regulate nail salons.

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.

  

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.

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