Sunrise Smart Start: Wednesday, September 15

Sunrise Smart Start

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.


Federal judge blocks medical worker vaccine mandate in New York state

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the state of New York from forcing medical workers to be vaccinated after a group of health care workers sued, saying their Constitutional rights were violated.

Judge David Hurd in Utica issued the order Tuesday after 17 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, claimed that their rights were violated with a vaccine mandate that disallowed religious exemptions.

The judge gave New York state until Sept. 22 to respond to the lawsuit in federal court in Utica.

The state issued the order Aug. 28, requiring at least a first shot for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes by Sept. 27.


Strong Memorial Hospital may delay elective surgery scheduling 2 weeks due to staffing

URMC released a statement Tuesday saying more than 91 percent of its employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, but it may still need to delay scheduling of elective surgeries once unvaccinated employees are forced out of work.

“As we continue to encourage vaccination, UR Medicine hospitals are working as a system to minimize impacts on patient care after unvaccinated employees are no longer able to work,” the statement says. “One step under consideration at Strong is not to schedule new elective surgeries for the two-week period beginning Sept. 27, which would free up staff who could be redeployed to critical care areas.”

New York State issued a vaccine mandate in August, requiring all hospital and long-term care facility employees to receive at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. That mandate is separate from the federal mandate issued by President Biden regarding businesses with more than 100 employees.

The URMC statement was sent Tuesday in response to a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily blocked New York State from requiring medical workers to be vaccinated. That ruling was issued after a group of health care workers sued, claiming the omission of religious exemptions violated their Constitutional rights.


Kirk Ashton, Hilton principal charged with sex abuse, resigns

Kirk Ashton, the Hilton elementary school principal accused of abusing more than 30 students, has resigned.

Ashton pleaded not guilty to 25 charges in April. More families have taken legal action against him since then.

According to the Hilton Central School District, the board of education approved the separation agreement Tuesday. As part of the agreement, Ashton will be paid 5 months salary along with the amount of his accrued vacation and sick time.

The district says, under New York State Education Law, Ashton could not be fired without a formal disciplinary hearing. It says district officials chose not to pursue that option because it would have required students to testify.


12-day Fringe Fest kicks off in-person, energy on Tuesday ‘palpable’

The 10th annual Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival opened Tuesday, with 425 performances, 90% of which are live and in-person. The Fringe Fest is welcoming participants this year face to face on the corner of Gibbs and Main Street. Last year during COVID it was all virtual, but producer Erica Fee says come on, nothing beats this.

“You know what? The energy is absolutely palpable. It’s very exciting, as you can see, people are very excited,” says Fee.

With performances like ‘Dashboard Dramas’, ‘the Bushwhacked Backyard Bonfire’, and the world premiere of ‘Cirque du Fringe’, dozens and dozens ready to get out, and get back to having fun like it’s 2019. 


Rochester man says his father is local doctor accused of inseminating patient with own sperm

A Rochester man says his biological father is a local doctor accused of inseminating a patient with his own sperm.

CJ Lore, a local real estate broker, told News 8 Dr. Morris Wortman is his father. Lore said he’d learned that through an Ancestry.com DNA test a few years ago.

Lore described it as “earth-shattering.”

“This is very difficult news, to find out the person you thought your father was, really isn’t your father,” said Lore, “And for me that is the first bit of information – My father, that I thought was my father, really isn’t. And Dr Wortman is my biological father. That’s what hurt me the most, anyway.”

In a recent lawsuit, Wortman is accused of inseminating a patient with his own sperm instead of donor sperm. The lawsuit was filed by a Geneseo woman who alleges she discovered she had several half-siblings through DNA tests.

“There can’t be a way for a kid to be created by a stranger and never know their medical history,” Lore explained, “or who their potential siblings might be, or where they might be, so they don’t end up having an issue.”

When news of the lawsuit broke this week, attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant in the suit did not immediately return a request for comment.


Bills, Sabres will require fans 12+ to provide proof of vaccination for entry beginning Sept. 25

On Tuesday afternoon, representatives of Pegula, Sports & Entertainment (PSE), as well as the Erie County government, gathered to share new health and safety protocols for both Highmark Stadium and the KeyBank Center.

The 2 p.m. conference, which featured Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and PSE Executive Vice President Ron Raccuia, came after this past Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game.

Prior to gameday, the county said that vaccinated attendees could take their masks off outside in the stands, but inside, they were supposed to be worn. That included the bathrooms and concourses.

As was seen in numerous pictures and videos from Sunday, many fans did not comply with the rules. Some food vendors weren’t complying with the mask policy either.

The day after, Poloncarz did not say whether or not enforcement tactics or rules would change, but on Tuesday morning, it was announced that new protocols would be in place for the future.

Starting September 26 for Highmark Stadium and September 25 for the KeyBank Center, guests ages 12+ must prove that they’ve been given at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom beats back GOP-led recall

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday emphatically defeated a recall aimed at kicking him out of office early, a contest the Democrat framed as part of a national battle for his party’s values in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and continued threats from “Trumpism.”

Newsom bolted to a quick victory boosted by healthy turnout in the overwhelmingly Democratic state. He cast it as a win for science, women’s rights and other liberal issues, and it ensures the nation’s most populous state will remain in Democratic control as a laboratory for progressive policies.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic.”

With an estimated two-thirds of ballots counted, “no” on the question of whether to recall Newsom was ahead by a 30-point margin. That lead was built on votes cast by mail and in advance of Tuesday’s in-person balloting, with a strong showing by Democrats. While likely to shrink somewhat in the days ahead as votes cast at polling places are counted, Newsom’s lead couldn’t be overcome.


Weather forecast: A wet start to Wednesday

The cold front will slowly progress eastward through the night and into early Wednesday with rain and rumbles persisting along it. By the time we reach afternoon where the line will again intensify, the boundary should be well east of Rochester.

We may have to watch for a re-flare of strong storms in the Finger Lakes, but even there it’s possible the front is just to our east and it’s mainly rain. That’s something we’ll monitor tomorrow once we see exactly how much progress the front makes overnight tonight.

Our weather then quiets down for the rest of the week with temperatures in the 70s Thursday, destined to return to the 80s Friday. A weak weekend front will be draped nearby, but likely won’t have enough punch for much more than a random shower with highs both days around 80.

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