Sunrise Smart Start: Tuesday, December 21

Sunrise Smart Start

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

According to police, Lonnie Gandues, 51, was driving southbound on Hudson Avenue around 4:00 p.m. when he veered off the roadway and struck a 27-year-old woman who was crossing Wilkins Street.

She was taken to URMC, where she was pronounced dead.

He was briefly hospitalized for minor injuries, then charged with Vehicular Manslaughter 2nd Degree and Driving While Intoxicated, along with a number of vehicle and traffic charges.

Gandues is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning.

Investigators say he may face additional charges as determined by a Grand Jury.

The governor began the briefing by announcing New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett has tested positive for COVID-19, adding that the result was from a rapid test.

She will undergo further testing, but as she tested positive, she was not present for Monday’s briefing.

The governor announced Monday that New York set a new record Sunday for highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, with 23,391 confirmed cases.

“We are starting to see some encouraging news from other nations affected [by omicron],” Gov. Hochul said. “Those numbers went up quickly and then came back down and that what we expect to see happening here as well.

The governor said the increase in new cases is leading to an increase in COVID hospitalizations as well.

“It did not have to be this way,” Gov. Hochul said. “We did not have to have this many hospitalizations. This is putting a real stress on our smaller Upstate hospital systems, but this is not March of 2020. It is not even December 2020 — they’re not comparable. We have to meet this moment with action.”

Gov. Hochul also said $65 million will be distributed to municipalities to give local government and health departments additional resources to assist with the mandate in a way that fits best with their community.

“We’re putting $65 million on the table to help counties associate with the costs for the protocols we put in place,” Gov. Hochul said. “I’m ensuring there’s at least $1 million available for the small counties and up to $2 million for the larger counties. 

Officials also identified the deputy involved — Deputy Michael Houlihan. Police say he’s been a deputy sheriff for three years and three months, and is assigned to Road Patrol.

The incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. Officials say the deputy was observing a suspicious vehicle that was parked across Moseley Road when he hit Soper, a pedestrian. The deputy was not on call at the time.

Authorities say the investigation found the patrol vehicle was traveling at 47 mph when it was headed westbound on Route 31, where the posted speed limit is 45 mph.

Police say the vehicle’s air bags did not deploy and the vehicle’s black box did not start a separate incident to record his speed.

The New York State Attorney General’s office is involved with the investigation, per state law.

With COVID cases climbing, some colleges and universities here are requiring students to get tested prior to their return next year. 

SUNY Brockport and St. John Fisher said all students will engage in return testing in January, obtaining test results before they start the spring semester.

The Rochester Institute of Technology is strongly recommending students get tested.

When it comes to schools with international students, places like The University of Rochester strongly advised foreign students not to leave the US. And UR, like Nazareth, is still working on what might be required for COVID testing when students return. 

You can find testing expectations from RIT, Nazareth, UR, Brockport and St. John’s in the link above.

The new campaign will focus around new “Let’s Keep Monroe Open” signs that businesses — who are complying with the vax or mask mandate — can hang to signify their environment is a safe one.

The campaign will be more about education and encouragement rather than enforcement, officials said.

“We are asking the community to ‘Vax-Boost-and Mask’ in a way to support our businesses and our schools as we navigate this holiday spike of the virus and prepare for the omicron variant here in Monroe County,” Bello said.

The URMC Chief Medical Officer said if more and more COVID patients get admitted to the ICU, more care options would have to be limited.

“We are getting to that point,” Dr. Apostolakos said. “If we continue to admit COVID patients to our ICU, than we are going to have to limit care that we provide. Now we are talking about essential surgeries that would have to be stopped, in order to bring staff in to care for more patients.

Part of the campaign will also include more endorsements of vaccine efficacy.

“Talk to someone you trust, get information that’s not third hand, not from social media,” Malik Evans said.

“I have news: Social media is not real,” Bello said. “Facebook is not the real world. Twitter is not the real world. Walking into Wegmans and seeing 98% of customers where masks is the real world. Most of the businesses in this community are participating. You can see it with your own eyes. Let’s work together with as many lives saved as possible.”

This new campaign, though, appears to be more about education and encouragement rather than enforcement, especially in terms of potential confrontations.

“We strongly encourage for people to not do that [confront people,” Duffy said. “For those who are going to be defiant — we don’t want to go back to a shutdown. I think we need to appeal to common sense. People who say they won’t lead by this example are politically led. We do now want to be shutdown. We urge businesses, I would not confront customers — for the safety of staff, I would not encourage that.”

A family residence on the 300 block of Melville Street was struck by gunfire, penetrating at least one room where three young children were sleeping Monday night.

Upon arrival officers were able to confirm that the projectiles made their way into the home.

Authorities say that the children aged 2,6 and 8 were sleeping at the time and were not hurt.

The area where the incident occurred was closed to pedestrian and vehicle traffic for about an hour.

No suspects are in custody as investigators continue to work on this case.

It’s a quiet day with passing clouds for the first official day of winter in the northern hemisphere. Tuesday will stay in the mid to high 30s with some sun throughout the day before a round of light snow flurries come.

Wednesday will see some of the snow storm that will hit the Finger Lakes fall down in Rochester but it won’t be enough to accumulate. Clouds and temperatures of 35 will highlight the day.

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