Daily Archives: Jul 1, 2020

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Rudolfo Anaya, a writer who helped launch the 1970s Chicano Literature Movement with his novel “Bless Me, Ultima,” a book celebrated by Latinos, has died at 82.

Anaya’s niece, Belinda Henry, said the celebrated author died Sunday at his Albuquerque, New Mexico, home after suffering from a long illness.

Literary critics say Anaya’s World War II-era novel about a young Mexican-American boy’s relationship with an older curandera, or healer, influenced a generation of Latino writers because of its imagery and cultural references that were rare at the time of its 1972 publication

In a 2013 interview on C-SPAN, Anaya said the idea of the novel came after he had a vision of a woman at the doorway of a room where he was writing.

“She said, ‘You’ll never get it right unless you put me in it’,” Anaya said. “I said, ‘Who are you?’ She said, ‘Ultima’ … And there it was.”

The book’s release coincided with the growing and militant Chicano movement that stressed cultural pride over assimilation. It also came as Mexican-American college students were demanding more literature by Latino authors.

From activists circles to community centers, the novel was shared along with Tomas Rivera’s novel “… and the Earth Did Not Devour Him” and later the poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes.

“I was completely transported the first time I picked up ‘Bless Me, Ultima’,” said novelist and poet Rigoberto Gonzalez, who was mentored by Anaya. “He was somehow able to capture the backdrop of our community and make us proud.”

Anaya would go on to write a number of novels, including a mystery series featuring Mexican-American detective Sonny Baca.

Anaya used his fame to start a creative writing program at the University of New Mexico and opened up a retreat in Jemez Spring, New Mexico, for aspiring Latino writers.

Despite the popularity of “Bless Me, Ultima” on college campuses throughout the years, the novel was banned in some Arizona schools after a campaign by some conservatives who said the book promoted the overthrow of the federal government. Latino literary critics called those claims outrageous and launched a counter campaign to get Anaya’s work and others by Latino authors into Arizona for community libraries near schools where the book was banned.

Anaya hosted a group of book smugglers led by Houston, Texas, novelist Tony Diaz at his Albuquerque home in 2012. He donated some of his own books and gave activists traveling on a bus his blessing.

The novel was made into a feature film in 2013. The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque announced in 2016 it was working to make “Bless Me, Ultima” into an opera.

Born in the small central New Mexico railroad town of Pastura, Anaya came from a Hispanic family with deep roots in a region once colonized by Spain. He was one of seven siblings and the only male in his family to attend primary school. Years later he would say Spanish-speaking oral storytellers of his youth remained an influence in his writing as an adult.

Anaya graduated from Albuquerque High School and later abandoned his studies to become an accountant after enrolling in a liberal arts program at the University of New Mexico. While working on a master’s degree, he met and married Patricia Lawless, a guidance counselor from Lyons, Indiana.

“I already had a couple of drafts of ‘Bless Me, Ultima’,” Anaya said in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal in 2010. “And again she just saw that there was something of literary importance there and encouraged me to keep going, to keep writing.”

Lawless died in 2010.

In September 2016, Anaya was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama. Frail and in poor health, Anaya agreed to make the trip to Washington at the last moment and accepted his medal while in a wheelchair.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called Anaya one of the state’s greatest artists and a seminal figure in literature.

“Through his indelible stories, Rudolfo Anaya, perhaps better than any other author, truly captured what it means to be a New Mexican, what it means to be born here, grow up here and live here,” she said in a statement.

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Associated Press writer Russell Contreras is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the head of their governing body said more than half of the 160 teams were in danger of failing without government assistance or private equity injections.

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body founded in September 1901, made the long-expected announcement. The minors had never missed a season.

“We are a fans-in-the-stands business. We don’t have national TV revenues,” National Association president Pat O’Conner said during a digital news conference. “There was a conversation at one point: Well, can we play without fans? And that was one of the shortest conversations in the last six months. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

O’Conner estimated 85-90% of revenue was related to ticket money, concessions, parking and ballpark advertising. The minors drew 41.5 million fans last year for 176 teams in 15 leagues, averaging 4,044 fans per game.

MLB teams are planning for a 60-game regular season and most of their revenue will derive from broadcast money.

“I had a conversation with the commissioner, and we weren’t unable to find a path that allowed us to play games,” O’Conner said. “It wasn’t an acrimonious decision on our part.”

O’Conner said many minor league teams had received money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act.

“That was a Band-Aid on a hemorrhaging industry,” he said. “Many of our clubs have gone through one, two, maybe three rounds of furloughs. In our office here, we’ve had varying levels of pay cuts between senior management, staff, and we’ve furloughed some individuals, as well, and are just about to enter in a second round of furloughs.”

He hopes for passage of H.R. 7023, which would provide $1 billion in 15-year federal loans from the Federal Reserve to businesses that had 2019 revenue of $35 million or less and “have contractual obligations for making lease, rent, or bond payments for publicly owned sports facilities, museums, and community theaters.”

In addition, the Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors expires Sept.. 30, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120.

“There’s no question that what the pandemic has done is made us somewhat weaker economically,” O’Conner said. “I don’t think it’s challenged our resolve. I don’t think it’s impacted our desire to stick together and get a good deal.”

There have not been substantive talks for about six weeks.

“There are very many teams that are not liquid, not solvent, not able to proceed under normal circumstances, and these are anything but normal circumstances given the PBA and the uncertainty of the future for some of these ballclubs,” O’Conner said. “So I think the coronavirus has really cut into many clubs’ ability to make it. And I think that we’re looking at without some government intervention, without doing something to take on equity partners, you might be looking at half of the 160 who are going to have serious problems.”

MLB already has told clubs to retain expanded 60-player pools, of which 30 players can be active during the first two weeks of the season starting in late July.

By LAUREN WEBER, LAURA UNGAR, MICHELLE R. SMITH, HANNAH RECHT and ANNA MARIA BARRY-JESTE

The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and lacks the resources to confront the worst health crisis in a century.

A nurse operates a ventilator for a patient with COVID-19 who went into cardiac arrest and was revived by staff, Monday, April 20, 2020, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Marshaled against a virus that has sickened at least 2.6 million in the U.S., killed more than 126,000 people and cost tens of millions of jobs and $3 trillion in federal rescue money, state and local government health workers on the ground are sometimes paid so little, they qualify for public aid.

They track the coronavirus on paper records shared via fax. Working seven-day weeks for months on end, they fear pay freezes, public backlash and even losing their jobs.

Since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita and spending for local health departments has fallen by 18%, according to a KHN and Associated Press analysis of government spending on public health. At least 38,000 state and local public health jobs have disappeared since the 2008 recession, leaving a skeletal workforce for what was once viewed as one of the world’s top public health systems.

KHN, also known as Kaiser Health News, and AP interviewed more than 150 public health workers, policymakers and experts, analyzed spending records from hundreds of state and local health departments, and surveyed statehouses. On every level, the investigation found, the system is underfunded and under threat, unable to protect the nation’s health.

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview in April that his “biggest regret” was “that our nation failed over decades to effectively invest in public health.”

So when this outbreak arrived — and when, according to public health experts, the federal government bungled its response — hollowed-out state and local health departments were ill-equipped to step into the breach.

Over time, their work had received so little support that they found themselves without direction, disrespected, ignored, even vilified. The desperate struggle against COVID-19 became increasingly politicized and grew more difficult.

States, cities and counties in dire straits have begun laying off and furloughing their limited staff, and even more devastation looms, as states reopen and cases surge. Historically, even when money pours in following crises such as Zika and H1N1, it disappears after the emergency subsides. Officials fear the same thing is happening now.

“We don’t say to the fire department, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. There were no fires last year, so we’re going to take 30% of your budget away.’ That would be crazy, right?” said Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, the health officer in Shawnee County, Kansas. “But we do that with public health, day in and day out.”

Ohio’s Toledo-Lucas County Health Department spent $17 million, or $40 per person, in 2017.

Jennifer Gottschalk, 42, works for the county as an environmental health supervisor. When the coronavirus struck, the county’s department was so short-staffed that her duties included overseeing campground and pool inspections, rodent control and sewage programs, while also supervising outbreak preparedness for a community of more than 425,000 people.

When Gottschalk and five colleagues fell ill with COVID-19, she found herself fielding calls about a COVID-19 case from her hospital bed, then working through her home isolation. She only stopped when her coughing was too severe to talk on calls.

“You have to do what you have to do to get the job done,” Gottschalk said.

Now, after months of working with hardly a day off, she says the job is wearing on her. So many lab reports on coronavirus cases came in, the office fax machine broke. She faces a backlash from the community over coronavirus restrictions and there are countless angry phone calls.

Things could get worse; possible county budget cuts loom.

But Toledo-Lucas is no outlier. Public health ranks low on the nation’s financial priority list. Nearly two-thirds of Americans live in counties that spend more than twice as much on policing as they spend on nonhospital health care, which includes public health.

More than three-quarters of Americans live in states that spend less than $100 per person annually on public health. Spending ranges from $32 in Louisiana to $263 in Delaware, according to data provided to KHN and AP by the State Health Expenditure Dataset project.

That money represents less than 1.5% of most states’ total spending, with half of it passed down to local health departments.

The share of spending devoted to public health belies its multidimensional role. Agencies are legally bound to provide a broad range of services, from vaccinations and restaurant inspections to protection against infectious disease. Distinct from the medical care system geared toward individuals, the public health system focuses on the health of communities at large.

“Public health loves to say: When we do our job, nothing happens. But that’s not really a great badge,” said Scott Becker, chief executive officer of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “We test 97% of America’s babies for metabolic or other disorders. We do the water testing. You like to swim in the lake and you don’t like poop in there? Think of us.”

But the public doesn’t see the disasters they thwart. And it’s easy to neglect the invisible.

A HISTORY OF DEPRIVATION

The local health department was a well-known place in the 1950s and 1960s, when Harris Pastides, president emeritus of the University of South Carolina, was growing up in New York City.

“My mom took me for my vaccines. We would get our injections there for free. We would get our polio sugar cubes there for free,” said Pastides, an epidemiologist. “In those days, the health departments had a highly visible role in disease prevention.”

The United States’ decentralized public health system, which matches federal funding and expertise with local funding, knowledge and delivery, was long the envy of the world, said Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health.

“A lot of what we’re seeing right now could be traced back to the chronic funding shortages,” Omer said. “The way we starve our public health system, the way we have tried to do public health outcomes on the cheap in this country.”

In Scott County, Indiana, when preparedness coordinator Patti Hall began working at the health department 34 years ago, it ran a children’s clinic and a home health agency with several nurses and aides. But over time, the children’s clinic lost funding and closed. Medicare changes paved the way for private services to replace the home health agency. Department staff dwindled in the 1990s and early 2000s. The county was severely outgunned when rampant opioid use and needle sharing sparked an outbreak of HIV in 2015.

Besides just five full-time and one part-time county public health positions, there was only one doctor in the outbreak’s epicenter of Austin. Indiana’s then-Gov. Mike Pence, now leading the nation’s coronavirus response as vice president, waited 29 days after the outbreak was announced to sign an executive order allowing syringe exchanges. At the time, a state official said that only five people from agencies across Indiana were available to help with HIV testing in the county.

The HIV outbreak exploded into the worst ever to hit rural America, infecting more than 230 people.

At times, the federal government has promised to support local public health efforts, to help prevent similar calamities. But those promises were ephemeral.

Two large sources of money established after Sept. 11, 2001 — the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program and the Hospital Preparedness Program — were gradually chipped away.

The Affordable Care Act established the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was supposed to reach $2 billion annually by 2015. The Obama administration and Congress raided it to pay for other priorities, including a payroll tax cut. The Trump administration is pushing to repeal the ACA, which would eliminate the fund, said Carolyn Mullen, senior vice president of government affairs and public relations at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who championed the fund, said he was furious when the Obama White House took billions from it, breaking what he said was an agreement.

“I haven’t spoken to Barack Obama since,” Harkin said.

If the fund had remained untouched, an additional $12.4 billion would eventually have flowed to local and state health departments.

But local and state leaders also did not prioritize public health over the years.

In Florida, for example, 2% of state spending goes to public health. Spending by local health departments in the state fell 39%, from a high of $57 in inflation-adjusted dollars per person in the late 1990s to $35 per person last year.

In North Carolina, Wake County’s public health workforce dropped from 882 in 2007 to 614 a decade later, even as the population grew by 30%.

In Detroit, the health department had 700 employees in 2009, then was effectively disbanded during the city’s bankruptcy proceedings. It’s been built back up, but today still has only 200 workers for 670,000 residents.

Many departments rely heavily on disease-specific grant funding, creating unstable and temporary positions. The CDC’s core budget, some of which goes to state and local health departments, has essentially remained flat for a decade. Federal money currently accounts for 27% of local public health spending.

Years of such financial pressure increasingly pushed workers in this predominantly female workforce toward retirement or the private sector and kept potential new hires away.

More than a fifth of public health workers in local or regional departments outside big cities earned $35,000 or less a year in 2017, as did 9% in big city departments, according to research by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the de Beaumont Foundation.

Even before the pandemic, nearly half of public health workers planned to retire or leave their organizations for other reasons in the next five years. Poor pay topped the list of reasons.

Armed with a freshly minted bachelor’s degree, Julia Crittendon took a job two years ago as a disease intervention specialist with Kentucky’s state health department. She spent her days gathering detailed information about people’s sexual partners to fight the spread of HIV and syphilis. She tracked down phone numbers and drove hours to pick up reluctant clients.

The mother of three loved the work, but made so little money that she qualified for Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for America’s poorest. Seeing no opportunity to advance, she left.

“We’re like the redheaded stepchildren, the forgotten ones,” said Crittendon, 46.

Such low pay is endemic, with some employees qualifying for the nutrition program for new moms and babies that they administer. People with the training for many public health jobs, which can include a bachelor’s or master’s degree, can make much more money in the private health care sector, robbing the public departments of promising recruits.

Dr. Tom Frieden, a former CDC director, said the agency “intentionally underpaid people” in a training program that sent early-career professionals to state and local public health departments to build the workforce.

“If we paid them at the very lowest level at the federal scale,” he said in an interview, “they would have to take a 10-20% pay cut to continue on at the local health department.”

As low pay sapped the workforce, budget cuts sapped services.

In Alaska, the Division of Public Health’s spending dropped 9% from 2014 to 2018 and staffing fell by 82 positions in a decade to 426. Tim Struna, chief of public health nursing in Alaska, said declines in oil prices in the mid-2010s led the state to make cuts to public health nursing services. They eliminated well-child exams for children over 6, scaled back searches for the partners of people with certain sexually transmitted infections and limited reproductive health services to people 29 and younger.

Living through an endless stream of such cuts and their aftermath, those workers on the ground grew increasingly worried about mustering the “surge capacity” to expand beyond their daily responsibilities to handle inevitable emergencies.

When the fiercest of enemies showed up in the U.S. this year, the depleted public health army struggled to hold it back.

A DECIMATED SURGE CAPACITY

As the public health director for the Kentucky River District Health Department in rural Appalachia, Scott Lockard is battling the pandemic with 3G cell service, paper records and one-third of the employees the department had 20 years ago.

He redeployed his nurse administrator to work round-the-clock on contact tracing, alongside the department’s school nurse and the tuberculosis and breastfeeding coordinator. His home health nurse, who typically visits older patients, now works on preparedness plans. But residents aren’t making it easy on them.

“They’re not wearing masks, and they’re throwing social distancing to the wind,” Lockard said in mid-June, as cases surged. “We’re paying for it.”

Even with more staff since the HIV outbreak, Indiana’s Scott County Health Department employees worked evenings, weekends and holidays to deal with the pandemic, including outbreaks at a food packing company and a label manufacturer. Indiana spends $37 a person on public health.

“When you get home, the phone never stops, the emails and texts never stop,” said Hall, the preparedness coordinator.

All the while, she and her colleagues worry about keeping HIV under control and preventing drug overdoses from rising. Other health problems don’t just disappear because there is a pandemic.

“We’ve been used to being able to `MacGyver’ everything on a normal day, and this is not a normal day,” said Amanda Mehl, the public health administrator for Boone County, Illinois, citing a TV show.

Pezzino, whose department in Kansas serves Topeka and Shawnee County, said he had been trying to hire an epidemiologist, who would study, track and analyze data on health issues, since he came to the department 14 years ago. Finally, less than three years ago, they hired one. She just left, and he thinks it will be nearly impossible to find another.

While epidemiologists are nearly universal in departments serving large populations, hardly any departments serving smaller populations have one. Only 28% of local health departments have an epidemiologist or statistician.

Strapped departments are now forced to spend money on contact tracers, masks and gloves to keep their workers safe and to do basic outreach.

Melanie Hutton, administrator for the Cooper County Public Health Center in rural Missouri, pointed out the local ambulance department got $18,000, and the fire and police departments got masks to fight COVID-19.

“For us, not a nickel, not a face mask,” she said. “We got (5) gallons of homemade hand sanitizer made by the prisoners.”

Public health workers are leaving in droves. At least 34 state and local public health leaders have announced their resignation, retired or been fired in 17 states since April, a KHN/AP review found. Others face threats and armed demonstrators.

Ohio’s Gottschalk said the backlash has been overwhelming.

“Being yelled at by residents for almost two hours straight last week on regulations I cannot control left me feeling completely burned out,” she said in mid-June.

Many are putting their health at risk. In Prince George’s County, Maryland, public health worker Chantee Mack died after, family and co-workers believe, she and several colleagues contracted the disease in the office.

A DIFFICULT ROAD AHEAD

Pence, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on June 16, said the public health system was “far stronger” than it was when coronavirus hit.

It’s true that the federal government this year has allocated billions for public health in response to the pandemic, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. That includes more than $13 billion to state and local health departments, for activities including contact tracing, infection control and technology upgrades.

A KHN/AP review found that some state and local governments are also pledging more money for public health. Alabama’s budget for next year, for example, includes $35 million more for public health than it did this year.

But overall, spending is about to be slashed again as the boom-bust cycle continues.

In most states, the new budget year begins July 1, and furloughs, layoffs and pay freezes have already begun in some places. Tax revenues evaporated during lockdowns, all but ensuring there will be more. At least 14 states have already cut health department budgets or positions or were actively considering such cuts in June, according to a KHN/AP review.

Since the pandemic began, Michigan temporarily cut most of its state health workers’ hours by one-fifth. Pennsylvania required more than 65 of its 1,200 public health workers to go on temporary leave, and others lost their jobs. Knox County, Tennessee, furloughed 26 out of 260 workers for eight weeks.

Frieden, formerly of the CDC, said it’s “stunning” that the U.S. is furloughing public health workers amid a pandemic. The country should demand the resources for public health, he said, just the way it does for the military.

“This is about protecting Americans,” Frieden said.

Cincinnati temporarily furloughed approximately 170 health department employees.

Robert Brown, chair of Cincinnati’s Primary Care Board, questions why police officers and firefighters didn’t face similar furloughs at the time or why residents were willing to pay hundreds of millions in taxes over decades for the Bengals’ football stadium.

“How about investing in something that’s going to save some lives?” he asked.

In 2018, Boston spent five times as much on its police department as its public health department. The city recently pledged to transfer $3 million from its approximately $60 million police overtime budget to its public health commission.

Most local governments spend more on policing than healt

Looking ahead, more cuts are coming. Possible budget shortfalls in Brazos County, Texas, may force the health department to limit its mosquito-surveillance program and eliminate up to one-fifth of its staff and one-quarter of immunization clinics.

Months into the pandemic response, health departments are still trying to ramp up to fight COVID-19. Cases are surging in states including Texas, Arizona and Florida.

Meanwhile, childhood vaccinations began plunging in the second half of March, according to a CDC study analyzing supply orders. Officials worry whether they will be able to get kids back up to date in the coming months. In Detroit, the childhood vaccination rate dipped below 40%, as clinics shuttered and people stayed home, creating the potential for a different outbreak.

Cutting or eliminating non-COVID activities is dangerous, said E. Oscar Alleyne, chief of programs and services at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Cuts to programs such as diabetes control and senior nutrition make already vulnerable communities even more vulnerable, which makes them more likely to suffer serious complications from COVID. Everything is connected, he said.

It could be a year before there’s a widely available vaccine. Meanwhile, other illnesses, including mental health problems, are smoldering.

The people who spend their lives working in public health say the temporary coronavirus funds won’t fix the eroded foundation entrusted with protecting the nation’s health as thousands continue to die.

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Contributing to this report were: Associated Press writers Mike Stobbe in New York; Mike Householder in Toledo, Ohio; Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City, Utah; Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland; Jim Anderson in Denver; Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada; Summer Ballentine in Jefferson City, Missouri; Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Mike Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey; David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas; Jeff Amy in Atlanta; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and AP Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber in Washington.

 

By: Leo Shane

U.S. troops wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan, in November 2017. News reports allege that top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans.

Top congressional leaders pushed back on White House assertions that President Donald Trump was completely unaware of intelligence reports suggesting Russian officials offered financial incentives to Afghanistan insurgents to kill U.S. troops deployed to the region, saying that evidence shows the information was made available to the commander in chief.

Following a White House briefing for a small group of  defense leaders on the issue early Tuesday morning, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said that allegations that Russians paid bounties for the deaths of American service members are full of “conflicting intelligence” and “conflicting opinions,” putting its veracity in doubt.

“What I can say is that there’s certainly evidence of Russian involvement in Afghanistan,” he told reporters during a press event later in the day. “And I think we should do more to pursue that, and do more to hold the Russians accountable for their activity.”

But Smith dismissed public assertions by the president and his supporters that the information was too low-level or unresolved to rise to the highest levels of the White House.

“What we heard today, it was information that the president should have known about. And based on what we were told today, it seems to me like he did know about it,” he said. “It’d be hard for me to imagine that he wasn’t at least aware of the allegation.”

Since last Friday, when the New York Times reported that White House officials have known since March about allegations of the Russian bounties, administration officials and Trump himself have denied that the president had any exposure to the information.

White House press secretary Kayleigh Mcenany on Monday said there was “no consensus among the intelligence community” on the allegations and such information “would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.”

 

    Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says the majority of Buffalo Police officers are respectful

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was in the awkward position of condemning a police officer’s behavior while defending his city’s police force during a press conference on Tuesday.

    “The majority of our officers are doing the right thing,” Brown said. “They get good guidance from management. We want every officer to treat all people with respect and dignity. We didn’t see that with that video.”

    That video is the Facebook post that went viral on Monday. It shows Buffalo Police Lieutenant Michael DeLong, 50, confronting and later cursing at a woman who was recording cops dealing with a disoriented man outside a West Side convenience store.

    Hours after the video was posted, Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended Delong without pay and ordered an internal investigation of the incident.

    This was the third time in two months cellphone video captured city cops acting questionably.

    On Mother’s Day, a bystander recorded the arrest of Quentin Suttles. The video shows two officers subduing Suttles and then one repeated punching Suttles in the face. Suttles has hired an attorney and plans on suing the city.

    Back on June 4, a WFBO journalist was recording police attempting to clear protestors our of Niagara Square. The video shows officers pushing Martin Gugino, 75, backwards. He fell hitting his head hard enough to cause a serious injury. The two officers involved in the incident Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe were first suspended and then criminally charged with assaulting Gugino.

    But Mayor Brown insists his police department is not in disarray. Regarding Delong’s behavior, the mayor was emphatic, “This type of behavior cannot be tolerated. It will not be tolerated by the Buffalo Police Department.”

     

    BUFFALO, N.Y. –Dr. Raul Vazquez CEO of Urban Family Practice says the fight against coronavirus is far from over. As some restaurants and businesses are reopening he says it’s not the time to let your guard down.

    “I know everyone wants to get out and it’s nice to be outside and do these things but you got to still continue to be careful.”

    He says they’ve been doing 15-30 tests a day at the Great Buffalo United Accountable Health Care Network or Gbuahn. That includes both diagnostic and antibody testing. He says they’re seeing about 5 percent of people testing positive in the area

    “I know that at the state level the numbers are lower but I think a lot of it’s because we’re retesting people, as you’re going into work we’re being restested and that can really throw the numbers.”

    Vazquez says testing is still very important. That’s why he’s partnered with several businesses including dental offices and even churches to get people tested.

    “It helps bring awareness to covid-19, but then people who may not want may have thought not to come out and get tested it’s a way to hook them in and make sure they’re tested.”

    Health experts say the virus will ramp up again in the fall. Dr. Vazquez says there are several lessons learned from dealing with the virus during the past few months.

    “We can do telehealth, we can do a lot of different things we might have to go back to some of the things we did before but at least we know that we’re watching for it and we’re being careful.”

    Testing is available at Gbuahn Monday through Friday from 9a-m to 4 p.m.

    They also have mobile testing where they’re able to go to people’s homes.

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