Earlier this week Gov. Tom Wolf strongly urged all so-called non-essential businesses to close down until further notice to curb the spread of coronavirus. "I had hoped for voluntary compliance so our public safety officials could focus on assisting with the crisis. Unfortunately we have not seen full compliance," Wolf says. Now, Wolf isn't urging, he's ordering those businesses to be closed. That applies to many retail locations, some manufacturers, all entertainment venues and accounting services. Businesses permitted to remain open include grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and medical facilities. The new rules took effect last night at 8 o'clock. Enforcement of them will begin at 12:01 Saturday morning. You can get the complete list of what's allowed and not allowed to be open at www.790waeb.com.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine says 52 new cases of coronavirus were reported Thursday. "That brings our statewide total to 185 Pennsylvanians who have tested positive for COVID-19," Levine says. Coronavirus has now been detected in 22 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties. Montgomery County continues to have the most cases, with 47. Monroe County has 15. Bucks has a dozen cases. Northampton County has five confirmed cases. Berks and Lehigh counties both have a single reported case.
There are now at least 742 confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey and nine deaths from the virus. The latest three deaths were reported Thursday as were another 312 new cases. Gov. Phil Murphy has expanded his order of businesses that must close to include personal-care businesses that cannot comply with social-distancing guidelines, such as barber shops, spas and tattoo parlors.
At the request of Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, County Council has unanimously approved a resolution asking the state to delay the April 28th primary election. County elections officials say they've already lost more than 30 poll workers who have quit out of fear of working at a polling place. The final decision rests to state officials in Harrisburg.
Two Lehigh University students have tested positive for coronavirus. The two were both studying abroad and traveled directly back home without returning to Lehigh's campus first. Lehigh says they're both in isolation.
Lafayette College has rescheduled this spring's commencement to August 1st because of the coronavirus. Lafayette has also announced it is moving to online classes for the remainder of the semester.
Pennsylvania Turnpike officials say they are reopening all service plazas today. Restrooms will be open around the clock with take-out food service available daily from 8am to 6pm. The decision is a reversal of a plan to shutter all 17 Turnpike service plazas after truckers complained they were losing places to park with sanitary facilities.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is canceling all standardized testing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. State school officials have announced that all PSSA testing and Keystone exams are canceled for the 2019-2020 school year. On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the closure of all K-through-12 schools in the state for at least the next ten days. State school officials are working on keeping students connected to learning during the break from the classroom.
Berks County has released inmates in response to the coronavirus pandemic. DA John Adams says this week the county released about 60 non-violent offenders. He says those inmates completed their minimum sentence and were eligible for parole. The decision was made to provide space to quarantine new inmates for a period of 14 days as a precaution.
We're not really sure when kids will be allowed to go back to school. With the open-ended break, Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai says local districts need to figure out how to keep students engaged. "We have to find a way, district by district, to do that. And the districts have to be allowed some flexibility. But, no plan is not acceptable. Any plan moving forward will be supported and will be praised because our students need education," Turzai says. All Pennsylvania schools remain closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Robert Torres says it's very important that seniors practice social distancing. He says they've waived the rules that require PACE program participants to wait till most of their prescriptions are gone before getting refills. "Our PACE program is working to ensure older adults remain in their residences and receive their prescriptions when they desire them. All enrollees should be able to receive free home delivery of their medications from their pharmacies," Torres says. While Torres says seniors need to keep their distance from others, they still need interaction via phone or video conferencing like Facetime or Skype.
An emergency waiver has been issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to add more beds to hospitals amid the coronavirus outbreak. Medical centers may add beds to empty spaces after they contact the health department. With rising coronavirus cases, health officials are exploring options to help slow the spread of the virus.
New Jersey health officials confirm a fourth member of a Monmouth County family has died from coronavirus. 53-year-old Vincent Fusco died last night. Wednesday his mother, Grave, also died at the same hospital. Also on Wednesday, Fusco's brother, Carmine, became Pennsylvania's first coronavirus death. Last Friday, Fusco's sister, Rita, died from coronavirus. All four deaths are linked to a family gathering that was attended by the first New Jersey resident to die from the virus, John Brennan.
New Jersey Transit is asking Congress for $1.25 billion to enable it to survive. New Jersey Transit is one of the country's largest commuter transportation networks and is the primary route New Jersey commuters take to go to New York City. Agency CEO Kevin Corbett wrote in the letter that the coronavirus pandemic will leave the system $1.25 billion short by the end of the next fiscal year.
Three members of the Philadelphia 76ers organization have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. All players, coaches and staff members were tested and only three tested positive. There's no word whether the three are players, coaches or office staff.
The Philadelphia Eagles are improving their secondary after trading for cornerback Darius Slay. The Eagles sent two draft picks to the Detroit Lions for the Pro Bowl defender.