Gov. Tom Wolf is ordering residents in seven Pennsylvania counties to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. "The City of Philadelphia has already issued a stay-in-place order and I'm issuing a stay-at-home order for six more counties right now. If you live in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe or Montgomery counties you must stay in your home unless not leaving your home endangers a life," Wolf says. The governor says he decided against putting the stay at home order into effect across the state because he doesn't want to overreact.
The state Department of Education is extending the school closure order across Pennsylvania by two weeks. The closure now extends to at least April 6th. When it's determined students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would then return on the third day.
State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine has the latest coronavirus numbers in Pennsylvania. "We have 165 new cases of COVID-19, bringing our statewide total to 644 Pennsylvanians who have tested positive in 34 counties," Levine says. Six of those 644 Pennsylvanians have now died, including a second death in Northampton County. Levine isn't saying where or when that death happened.
New Jersey now has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation. The number of confirmed cases in the state has risen to 2844. 27 people has died from the illness.
One of Allentown's biggest property owners is apologizing for a letter he sent to apartment tenants threatening eviction if they don't pay their rent on time. The letter from Nat Hyman's company says evictions would be filed on April 6 for residents who don't pay April rent due on the 1st. The letter said "If you are not able to pay your rent in full, please contact the office and we will arrange a date for you to move out of your apartment." Hyman apologized on Facebook, calling the letter from his company "very insensitive" and said it "does not reflect me or my company values in any way."
Muhlenberg College is reporting two coronavirus cases among its students. Both cases were reported over the weekend, though officials say the two had little contact with others on campus. However, some other students are still being notified.
The maker of Peeps says it will be suspending production beginning Wednesday morning until April 7th at the earliest. In a statement, Just Born says the decision was made in the interest of the well-being of its workers, customers, business partners and the community as a whole.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all Allentown playgrounds are being closed. Mayor Ray O'Connell says all residents should stay away from the 21 city playgrounds beginning today. Gates will be locked and caution tape will surround playground areas not already fenced in.
All service for Trans-Bridge Lines is suspended until further notice. The suspension began last night. The last bus out of the Allentown Bus Terminal left at 7:20pm. The company says the move was made as more cases of the coronavirus pop up in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.
Berks County's largest employer will soon be up and running again. East Penn Manufacturing says Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has granted the battery maker an exemption from his order for all non-life-sustaining business to cease operations as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. East Penn said it will begin to contact approximately 50% of its employees to return to work this week. The company, which began its shutdown late last week after the governor issued his order, employs more than 8,000 people.
A deal has reportedly been reached to delay the state's primary election next month. Tentatively, the election would be moved to June 2nd. Party leaders must still get the terms of the agreement by rank-and-file lawmakers before Gov. Tom Wolf can sign it. Wolf says he supports the move.
Small businesses across Pennsylvania who are feeling the pinch amid the spread of coronavirus can apply now for interest free loans from the commonwealth. The maximum loan amount for the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program is $100,000 and is for a term of three years. The money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
New Jersey's highest court says low-risk inmates who have served less than a year of their sentence must be released from county jails today. The ruling does not affect state prison sentences. The order was issued due to the increasing concern of the spread of the coronavirus in county jails. Whether the inmates will be returned to jail after the state of emergency ends will be left up to a judge.
New Jersey is freezing some $920 million in state spending because of a drop in state tax collections from the coronavirus outbreak. The freeze includes $142 million in the state's popular Homestead Property Tax Credit Program and $71 million in college operating assistance. The state Treasury Department says spending had to be frozen in order to make sure New Jersey has enough money left to meet emergency obligations.
Zach and Julie Ertz are donating $100,000 to families in need due to the coronavirus. Zach is a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles and Julie is a pro soccer player. The couple donated the money to Philabundance, a Philadelphia-area food bank.
The Philadelphia 76ers are notifying non-contracted employees that they might be laid off. The cuts will begin as soon as April and will affect full-time employees. Both teams are owned by Josh Harris and some front-office employees may be asked to take pay cuts as well. The NBA has suspended its season due to the coronavirus pandemic.