Sunrise Smart Start: Wednesday, January 12

Sunrise Smart Start

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.


New York State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, who announced a change in the state’s contact tracing protocol. The big change is that if New Yorkers test positive for COVID-19, they should no longer wait for a call from the state health department.

Dr. Bassett says the volume of new cases statewide has put a strain on local health department resources that can be better utilized elsewhere.

“The fact is we are changing the approach to contact tracing because of the winter surge,” Dr. Bassett said. “This is about flexibility. We are moving to more self-management and our guidance remains in line with the CDC. This will help local governments make a big difference in vaccination and testing.”

Although the number of hospitalizations continue to trend upward, the governor said that rate is beginning to decelerate.

“The rate of increase is slowing,” Gov. Hochul said. “Hospitalizations continue to grow, but the rate of increase is slowing and that is very encouraging. It’s a constant reminder; hospitalizations are a serious and high number.”

She also said that the state’s new case rates and positivity rates have started to plateau, and even decrease in some regions, for the first time in weeks.

When asked about the February 2 deadline for the state’s mask or vax mandate, the governor said it was too soon to say if that would be extended.

“We are getting through this,” Gov. Hochul said. “I am looking forward to rolling back on mandates. Since day one, I have been working protecting the health of our state and our economy.

Monroe County officials addressed the concerns Tuesday, saying the masks that were provided from the state “may not provide KN95 level protection,” but residents are still encouraged to use them if they do not currently have access to other higher quality masks.

“The agency is currently actively looking to update its recommendations for KN95 and N95 in light of omicron,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “We know these masks provide better filtration.”

Americans would have to be careful about which higher quality masks they obtain, as the CDC has said 60% of the KN95 masks in the U.S. are fake, the Post noted. 

Rochester Teachers Association President Dr. Adam Urbanski said the masks delivered to Monroe County are “defective, cheap imports.”

“Yeah, it’s ridiculous,” Dr. Urbanksi said. It’s cheap stuff that was pawned off on unsuspecting clients and then distributed to very vulnerable people: to children, to students, to the teachers.”

The U.S. on Tuesday broke its COVID-19 hospitalization record after individual states such as New York and Florida recently broke their daily COVID-19 case records. 

The Ontario County Sheriff’s Office reported the search for Willard Pond has been cancelled Wednesday. The man has dementia and went missing near Manchester Monday.

Pond was seen around 4 p.m. inside his 2002 Chevrolet SUV with New York registration KFA-9487. He may be travelling to Wayne County or to Romulus in Seneca County, according to police.

The American Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis in the U.S. Tuesday.

Officials said this shortage is the worst it has been in over a decade, and the effects are being felt nationwide and here at home.

“There are so many different reasons, from COVID to supply chain issues to staffing limitations, and we’re just rallying folks to come out and help,” Hanna Malak, Regional Donor Services Executive Director said.

The Red Cross is asking everyone who can, to donate immediately. Donor Tom Smith said the task isn’t hard to do.

“There is a huge need for it, it’s not difficult at all to do this and I actually feel awfully good about it when I’m done,” Smith said.

Local hospital systems like Rochester Regional Health said they’ve made changes in how they utilize their supply due to the shortage.

“It becomes an issue if all of a sudden we get in trauma, gunshot wounds, or motor vehicle accidents, things we don’t expect,” Dr. Roberto Vargas with Rochester Regional Health said.

Despite managing till this point, hospital systems such as Rochester Regional Health are asking those who can donate to do so. That way, they won’t have to dip further into crisis mode.

Authorities say a 47-year-old male was opening his car door when a suspect approached him, forced him off the vehicle and drove away. The resident was not injured during the carjacking, according to police.

A 31-year-old male resident was charged with robbery in the second degree and grand larceny in the forth degree. The second suspect was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree.

Wednesday will act as a pause from frigid temperatures brought on by Tuesday as sunny skies provide a blanket of warmth for Rochester this afternoon.

All that changes quickly however as snow showers settle in for tonight into Thursday morning. A detailed look at what is ahead of tomorrow’s commute can be found here.

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