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 detailed his plans to use rapid coronavirus testing in 2021 to reopen restaurants, theaters and arts venues -- including New York City’s Tribeca Film festival in June -- even before most New Yorkers are vaccinated.

The governor, in a second State of the State speech on Tuesday, also said he’ll push for a bill to require internet providers to offer deep discounts to low-income residents. 

  

During the first of four State of the State speeches, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that fighting the COVID-19 pandemic will be the top priority.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after nearly a week’s delay, is scheduled to deliver his State of the State speech on Monday. He said in the midst of a worsening pandemic and economic losses, the message will be a bit brighter now that Democrats are set to control both houses of Congress, and President-elect Joe Biden said he’ll push for a bailout for states like New York that were hit hard by the pandemic.  

County leaders in New York said Tuesday that their health departments have been developing vaccination plans for years and can help smooth the rocky rollout of the state’s vaccination program, but they need more cooperation from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration.

Republican members of the state Legislature want to rein in some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers that he has held through the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it’s time for more than just one branch of government to make all of the decisions.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said the 20 Republicans will introduce a resolution on the first day of session for the Legislature to take back some of the emergency authority that majority party Democrats granted the governor 10 months ago, when the pandemic began.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the New York State health department testing labs have discovered a case of the more contagious form of the coronavirus first discovered in the United Kingdom.

A Saratoga County man has tested positive for that strain, Cuomo said.

The governor said the man, in his 60s, works in a jewelry store, N. Fox Jewelers in Saratoga Springs, and that three other employees have also tested positive for the virus.

“He did not travel recently,” Cuomo said. “This suggests that it’s in the community, it was community spread.”

In New York state, like in most of the nation, the COVID-19 vaccination rollout is behind schedule, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to withhold new doses from hospitals that do not speed things up.  

About 300,000 vaccines have been administered in New York to front-line health care workers and some nursing home residents and staff, but that’s less than half of the vaccines that began shipping to the state three weeks ago.

Cuomo -- expressing what he called “constructive impatience” -- said that’s not good enough.

As the new year begins, New York state leaders face two major challenges. One is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as infection rates spike again and a vaccine rollout begins. The second is the state’s related multibillion-dollar budget deficit, which needs to be closed by spring.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s been given special emergency powers from the state Legislature during the pandemic, will likely continue to be the major figure as state officials try to bring down the coronavirus infection rate and ensure a fast and efficient rollout of the vaccine.

While many New Yorkers will be happy to put 2020 behind them, there’s no denying it was a year like no other. At the Capitol, the Legislature took a back seat as Gov. Andrew Cuomo gained power and popularity among residents who eagerly tuned in for his coronavirus briefings.

The year began with the governor following a decades-long tradition, giving a State of the State speech to a packed house of hundreds of guests, this year in the Capitol’s convention center.

“Happy New Year to all of you,” Cuomo said on Jan. 8 as the crowd applauded.

New York state’s positivity rate for the coronavirus jumped to 8.3%, according to the latest numbers released Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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