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.

New York's ban on single-use plastic bags has been upheld in State Supreme Court after the plastics industry challenged it, and it will now take effect in September.

The lawsuit was filed by a plastic bag manufacturer, as well as two grocery and bodega store owners. They argued that the law is unconstitutional, saying, among other things, that it unfairly gives advantages to makers of paper and reusable bags at their expense.

New York will immediately allow all voters in the state to request a mail-in ballot for the November elections.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed bills into law Thursday that, among other things, allow all eligible voters to cite the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to vote absentee.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the rate of positive coronavirus tests was below 1% for the 12th day in New York. But he also said it’s not time to be complacent and predicted there could be worse to come this fall. 

Cuomo said it’s “great news” that the infection rate was at 0.78% for Tuesday. The results of 80,425 coronavirus tests showed 631 New Yorkers tested positive. Six people died of the disease. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo, during a brief video address at the first night of the Democratic National Convention, spoke of New York’s struggles overcoming the coronavirus, and why he thinks Biden needs to win in November.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that gyms in New York can reopen as early as Aug. 24, but must operate at one-third of their regular capacity.

Cuomo said the gyms can open as early as next Monday, but with several restrictions. Capacity must be limited to 33%, masks must be worn at all times, and there will be mandatory sign-in procedures and temperature checks at the door. Heating and cooling systems must be improved to avoid potentially recirculating the coronavirus, and what are known as MERV-13 filters are required.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will headline the first night of the Democratic National Convention, with a speaking slot in prime time Monday night.

Cuomo, though he’s been governor for nine years, did not fully command the national spotlight until this spring, when he conducted daily televised briefings during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York.

Family members of nursing home residents, testifying at a legislative hearing this week, told harrowing tales of neglect and unresponsive staff and administrators while the COVID-19 pandemic raged in New York this spring. 

Virginia Wilson-Butler said her aunt Eva Johnson’s care in a Brooklyn nursing home was substandard even before the pandemic, with staff not available to feed her or change a soiled bed.  

The rate of transmission of the coronavirus in New York state remains low, and all regions of the state have been in the final phase of reopening for at least a month.

But some industries have been left out of those plans and remain closed. Owners of gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor-based businesses held a news conference to ask why they aren’t allowed to reopen.

Meanwhile, 1,500 gyms in New York have filed a class-action lawsuit demanding that the state offer a reopening plan. 

The June 23 primary was the first in New York to allow all voters the option of casting their ballots by mail. Under an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, registered voters could cite the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for filling out an absentee ballot.

The New York State Legislature held a hearing Tuesday on the primary elections to find out what went right and what went wrong.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined in a telephone news conference Monday by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to try to put pressure on Congress to finally resolve a stalemate over a federal aid package for cash-strapped states affected by the coronavirus pandemic.