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Nearly 100% of home health aides at People Inc. are vaccinated, in line with state mandate

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — One day after a vaccination deadline, many home health aides in New York risk losing work because they haven’t gotten a COVID shot.

There are an estimated 210,000 home health aides in New York.

Locally, Thomas Ess with People Inc. said other than one worker requesting a religious exemption, their vaccination rate is 100-percent.

He said he’s more concerned about the lower vaccination numbers among employees in group home and day services environments. These groups aren’t required to get vaccinated yet, but he’s anticipating the possibility.

“It’s definitely something, we’re very much happy that the people in home health chose to get the vaccine, ahead of time and we’re prepared for this mandate. Our concern rests with the approximately 2,700 direct support professionals that are operating in our group home environments, our day services environments, as well as the community,” he said.

People working in psychiatric hospitals in the OMH network of the specialty hospital certified by OPWDD will need to have their first shot by November 1.

As of Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul said the vaccination rate among adult care workers was 92%.

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New York DMV warns of COVID-19 text message phishing scam

(WETM) – The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles issued a warning for New Yorkers on Friday of a text message phishing scheme asking for COVID-19 vaccination status.

The DMV says these illegitimate text messages ask recipients to verify their driver’s license information and to validate their COVID-19 status. Anyone who received such a text message should delete it right away.  

The following images are samples of the illegitimate text messages:

Phishing texts are fraudulent messages designed to obtain data or sensitive personal information to be used to commit identity theft or trick the recipient into installing malicious software onto a computer or mobile device.

To help protect against phishing or smishing (SMS phishing) scams, the NYS Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) recommends the following precautions:

DO exercise caution with all communications you receive, including those that appear to be from a trusted entity.  Inspect the sender’s information to confirm the message was generated from a legitimate source.DO keep an eye out for telltale signs of phishing – poor spelling or grammar, the use of threats, the URL does not match that of the legitimate site. If the message does not feel right, chances are it is not.DON’T click on links embedded in an unsolicited message from an unverified source.DON’T send your personal information via text.  Legitimate businesses will not ask users to send sensitive personal information through text message.DON’T post sensitive information online.  The less information you post, the less data you make available to a cybercriminal for use in developing a potential attack or scam.

For additional information on phishing scams, as well as steps to mitigate a phishing attempt, visit the NYS Office of Information Technology Services Phishing Awareness resources page at https://its.ny.gov/resources.

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After seven months fighting Covid-19, many of those months on a ventilator, a Town of Niagara woman finally gets to go home

Warrior, brave and survivor those are some of the words used to describe Mary Corio of the Town of Niagara.

Corio was diagnosed with Covid-19 back in March of this year. She spent the last seven months fighting virus and about five of those months on a ventilator, and on Friday she got to go home.

Dozens of friends and family showed-up at Elderwood in Williamsville to wish her well.

“I wouldn’t have gotten through any of this without my son,” Corio said. “He knocked himself out to visit me  nearly every day. I wouldn’t have made it without friends and family.”

She was in several different hospitals during her illness. The sub-acute ventilator weaning program at Elderwood in Williamsville was her last stop.

“Once she got out of the ICU, we were like, what’s next? How do we get her off the ventilator? Not everybody gets off of ventilators,” said Ed Grudzinski Mary`s son. “She spent time in three other facilities, including one in Erie PA, finally by divine intervention, we got her into this facility and these guys are rock stars.”

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Independent Health accidentally discloses information of over 500 members at Williamsville Schools

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Independent Health said Friday the private health information of 541 members from Williamsville Central School District was inadvertently attached to a secure report sent to business partners of the insurance company between August 2019 and August 2021.

The names, member identification numbers, medical diagnosis codes and descriptions were embedded in the reports and sent to stop-loss carriers and brokers over two years.

Independent Health said finding the sensitive information in the report would have been “extremely difficult.”

Frank Sava, a spokesperson for Independent Health, said no social security numbers or personal financial information got disclosed. He said it’s unlikely information was misused because the reports were sent to HIPAA-covered entities that understand the requirements to keep data private.

Tractor trailer crash causes diesel fuel spill on Ganson Street

“As part of Independent Health’s safety and security protocols, we conduct regular extensive reviews,” Sava said. “During a recent review on August 13, 2021, we found protected health information (PHI) inadvertently embedded in a hidden cache in a secure report sent on a monthly basis to stop-loss carriers and brokers between August 2019 and August 2021 for 541 members from Williamsville Central School District, a self-funded plan client.”

The 541 members will receive two years of free identity protection and monitoring services. Sava said the error was a human error, and the company is working to prevent it from happening again.

If you were affected and have questions, call Independent Health at (716) 631-2661 or toll-free at 1-800-257-2753.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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Jamestown man charged in connection to overdose death

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) — A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment charging a Jamestown man with the distribution of heroin and fentanyl causing death, distribution of heroin and fentanyl causing “serious bodily injury,” and narcotics conspiracy on Friday.

U.S. Attorney James Kennedy’s Office says between July 2020 and June 2021, 33-year-old James Brandow allegedly conspired with others to sell heroin and fentanyl.

Officials tell News 4, Brandow sold heroin and fentanyl that resulted in the death of one person and the serious injury of another on July 31, 2020.

The charges carry a minimum penalty of 20 years to life in prison and a $1 million fine, according to Kennedy’s office.

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Tractor trailer crash causes diesel fuel spill on Ganson Street

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Friday morning, traffic near Buffalo Riverworks had to be diverted after a crash involving a tractor-trailer on Ganson Street.

Fire crews and the DEC were called to the scene as diesel fuel was leaking from the truck, which was stuck on a set of railroad tracks.

The closeness of the Buffalo River was an additional concern. Buffalo fire officials say no drains were affected.

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Excavator hits natural gas pipeline near Elmwood and Forest

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — National Fuel had to make an emergency trip to Buffalo’s west side on Friday morning.

Buffalo fire officials say an excavator doing construction hit a natural gas pipeline near the corner of Elmwood and Forest. It happened around 8:30 a.m.

As crews were responding, one building had to be evacuated. Eventually, the gas leak was stopped and the situation was resolved.

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Motorcyclist killed in hit-and-run at Genesee and Rapin in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A motorcyclist has died as the result of a hit-and-run at Genesee Street and Rapin Place in Buffalo.

Police say it happened Thursday night, shortly before 9:30 p.m. According to authorities, a westbound vehicle on Genesee was trying to make a turn when the driver hit the motorcyclist.

The 44-year-old Cheektowaga man on the motorcycle was taken to ECMC, where he later died.

It’s not clear what kind of vehicle struck him. Police say the driver fled the scene.

Anyone with information that could help police in their investigation is asked to call or text the Buffalo Police Department’s confidential tip line at (716) 847-2255.

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Jamestown man charged in connection to overdose death
Motorcyclist killed in hit-and-run at Genesee and Rapin in Buffalo
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State DMV warns of phishing scam texts
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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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Massachusetts woman caught trying to enter Canada with stolen gun

LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Massachusetts woman was placed under arrest Thursday for attempting to enter Canada with a stolen gun.

New York State Police tell News 4, 23-year-old Alyssa Peckham of Falls River, MA, had a Walther P22 at the Lewiston/Queenston Bridge.

Officials say the gun was reported stolen on October 13 of last year in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Michigan State Police.

Peckham is currently in the Niagara County Jail, awaiting arraignment.

She faces charges of criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of stolen property, and criminal possession of a weapon.

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State DMV warns of phishing scam texts

(WIVB) — The State DMV is warning New Yorkers of a “text message phishing scheme.” 

Officials say the phishing or “illegitimate text messages” ask folks to verify their driver’s license information and validate their COVID-19 status.

Anyone receiving a text like this should delete it right away, the NYS DMV tells News 4.

The NYS Office of Information Technology Services recommends these precautions:

DO exercise caution with all communications you receive, including those that appear to be from a trusted entity. Inspect the sender’s information to confirm the message was generated from a legitimate source.DO keep an eye out for telltale signs of phishing – poor spelling or grammar, the use of threats, the URL does not match that of the legitimate site. If the message does not feel right, chances are it is not.DON’T click on links embedded in an unsolicited message from an unverified source.DON’T send your personal information via text. Legitimate businesses will not ask users to send sensitive personal information through text message.DON’T post sensitive information online. The less information you post, the less data you make available to a cybercriminal for use in developing a potential attack or scam.

For more information on DMV phishing scams, click here.

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