Sunrise Smart Start: September 17, 2021

Sunrise Smart Start

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Friday, September 17, 2021.

RCSD board investigating harassment allegation against Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small

The Rochester City School District is investigating a harassment allegation against Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small.

Board President Van White confirms the board has hired outside counsel to investigate after one employee accused the superintendent of harassment.

“These are allegations,” White said. “The purpose of the investigation is to ascertain the accuracy and/or truth of those allegations.”

The Rochester City School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Highway worker struck, killed on Rt. 96 in Ontario County, driver charged

A highway worker has died after being struck by a vehicle in Ontario County Thursday evening.

Officials from the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office say deputies responded to State Route 96 and Bankert Rd in the Town of Phelps for the report of a crash with a pedestrian struck.

Upon arrival, deputies found the reported pedestrian was actually a construction worker riding a paint sprayer who was striping the center line of the newly paved portion of the highway, authorities say.

Police say the victim was transported to Clifton Springs Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The name of the victim has not been released, pending notification of this family.

Police say the striking vehicle was a 2011 Ford Fusion being operated by 84-year-old Robert Qualtrough, of Clifton Springs.

Qualtrough was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs or alcohol.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

COVID-19 booster shots could be around the corner: Here’s what to expect

The push for COVID-19 booster shots is intensifying as COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of 1 in every 500 Americans. 

An FDA advisory panel is meeting Friday to debate if there’s enough proof that a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine is safe and effective for the general public. This comes a week before President Biden said the additional shots would roll out for the general public.

There are still many questions surrounding the booster shots, so News 8 spoke with Dr. Ann Falsey, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, to learn more. 

Where do we stand right now with the COVID-19 booster shots?

“There’s a lot of ideas being put forward, and I do know that the ACIP is meeting, I think tomorrow, and will provide some better guidance,” Dr. Falsey said. “There is evidence in the literature that over time the vaccine efficacy does wain a bit for infection, although everybody seems to be well protected for severe disease, and that there’s also evidence that giving a third injection does increase antibody levels very nicely.”

The CDC has said the general public can get the vaccine 8 months after their second dose of the vaccine. After those 8 months, are people still protected?

“The current vaccines, even if you’re 9 to 10 months out, are still providing very good protection against severe disease. But no vaccine is ever going to be perfect. And so while the Delta, in particular, is really circulating rather widely, I still encourage people to use masks and sensible social distancing,” Dr. Falsey said.

“What we don’t want is people feeling panicky, that something magically happens that eight months, and they’re suddenly not protected at all, it’s not the case,” she added. 

Is the 8 month recommendation for everyone?

Dr. Falsey said this could depend on the vaccine you got previously. 

“It’s looking like maybe Moderna has a little bit more of a durable immunity. So Pfizer, they might say 8 to 10 months. Moderna they might say a year-and-a-half. The studies are really ongoing, where they track antibody levels and breakthrough infections, and try to get a sense of you know, how much you actually need.”

Bello, Dr. Mendoza: Monroe County at a ‘turning point’ against COVID-19

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza updated residents on the pandemic and its impact locally during a coronavirus briefing Thursday.

According to the county executive, the delta variant surge is still underway, with rising case numbers reported week over week.

“Last week we reported 169 new COVID-19 cases in Monroe County with a seven-day average of 142,” Bello said. “Today we are reported 213 new cases and a seven-day average of 193.”

The health commissioner said context is important when looking at the data.

“We’ve been focusing on these cases, but we are at a turning point in how we gauge these numbers,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Our total levels are increasing, but I want to offer that we are doing an increased number of test. At some level, it [rising numbers] wasn’t surprising, but predictable.”

Additionally, the health commissioner said the county’s average positivity rate has seen a slight decline recently, which was 4% as of Wednesday afternoon.

County officials report COVID-19 deaths weekly on Mondays. To date, 1,379 Monroe County residents have died from COVID-19, according to the most recent update on September 13.

Community asking for body camera footage, after fatal altercation with US Marshals

On Thursday, Attorney General’s Office released an update on the death of 24 year old Dedrick James, following an altercation with law enforcement Wednesday. A full investigation has been launched.

Their statement provides more details into the incident as it unfolded:

On the morning of September 15, 2021, members of the Multi-Agency Fugitive Task Force, including the Rochester Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, and United States Marshals Service, responded to 6 Vinewood Place in the city of Rochester to serve an arrest warrant for Dedrick James. Another individual answered the door, and after law enforcement entered the home, Mr. James allegedly fled to a bathroom. Once officers entered the bathroom, Mr. James allegedly displayed a firearm, and a brief struggle ensued while officers attempted to disarm him. During that encounter, the firearm allegedly in Mr. James’ possession discharged and one bullet entered his chest. Mr. James died as a result of that single gunshot wound. 

Community activists are not only asking for this investigation, but also for the full release of body camera footage as soon as possible.

Rev. Lewis Stewart, community leader and president of United Christian Ministries is one of those calling for footage. He says there are too many unanswered questions, and the public deserves to know more.

“I’m just asking for what are the facts that’s it,” he said. “What was it about the level of the suspects’ crime that would merit that type of police task force? The person was in Wayne County, what was the person doing there?”

Gananda class disruption caused by social media threat during rally over masking incident

The Gananda Central School District sent students home early during a protest outside a school Wednesday. On Thursday, district officials said a social media threat was to blame.

“The school day was disrupted when a social media threat was intercepted by law enforcement from an individual that was planning to attend a rally in the community for the support of Autism Awareness,” the district said in a statement sent out Thursday.

The protest was organized by the Wayne County Chapter of Moms For Liberty, after a parent, Laine Mulye, was accused of fighting with the district employee. According to Macedon Police, Mulye assaulted a bus monitor during an intense argument over her son trying to get on the bus without a mask, despite district policy.  Mulye allegedly encouraged her son to punch the bus monitor during the altercation. 

Mulye has been charged with harassment in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child.  

“We were not planning an early dismissal, however, it was the best option we had under the ever changing circumstances we continually find ourselves in,” Superintendent Shawn Van Scoy said. “Threats are not tolerated in any way, shape, or form.”

Weather forecast: Back into the 80s Friday?

A coastal low-pressure system will move slowly north toward the Atlantic by Friday and that may inject clouds into the region and a very isolated shower during the peak heating of the day. Otherwise, there will still be plenty of sun and temperatures take yet another bump as warmer air moves in from the west. Highs climb into the lower and middle 80s. 

WEEKEND OUTLOOK: Don’t look now, but this is the last weekend of summer. Despite that fact the summer warmth will still be sticking around for a little bit longer. A weak boundary from the north drops in Saturday and brings the threat for a few isolated rain showers, but most of the day is dry and highs get above average, in the upper 70s. More sun is expected Sunday as deep high pressure expanding from the Carolinas to New Hampshire. Highs will again be around 80°.

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