State Department of Health officials have added 623 new COVID-19 cases to Pennsylvania's overall total. That total now stands at 62,234 cases statewide since the pandemic began. The state's coronavirus-related death toll is now 4418.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says residents should expect new directives for the state's stay-at-home order this week. Meanwhile, New Jersey COVID-19 hospitalization numbers, ICU numbers and the numbers on ventilator use are also down. The state reported an additional new 1239 positive coronavirus cases over the weekend. This brings the New Jersey statewide case number to more than 145,000 cases. The number of deaths has slowed, with the latest number of daily deaths at 107.
The mass COVID-19 testing site at Easton Hospital is extending its operations. Now, residents displaying symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sore throat or other coronavirus-like symptoms, can get tested until May 22nd. In its initial run, the site was able to test 340 residents within five days. As of last night, Northampton County has more than 2700 people who have been infected by the virus.
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court is dismissing a lawsuit that wanted to delay the mail-in and absentee ballot deadline. In a suit filed last month, officials with Disability Rights Pennsylvania, the Senior Law Center and several other organizations argued postal delays could cause some ballots to arrive too late to be counted. County election officials must receive the ballots by 8pm on June 2nd to be counted.
Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry secretary says they're launching Pennsylvania's Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program to allow 13 additional weeks of benefits to anyone who exhausts their regular unemployment. PEUC is funded by the CARES Act and will also be used for those who currently aren't eligible for state or federal unemployment benefits. Anyone collecting any type of unemployment compensation will also receive an extra $600 per week from the Federal Unemployment Compensation Program. Since mid-March, there have been more than 15.7 million unemployment payments made to Pennsylvania, totaling $7.9 billion.
Beginning this morning, non-essential retail businesses can partially reopen in New Jersey. They'll be able to reopen for curbside pick-up and non-essential construction can restart, while drive-thru and drive-in businesses can also open under social distancing guidelines. Gatherings in vehicles to attend drive-in movies and religious services are not in violation as long as people remain in their cars.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the state's July 7th primary mostly will be by mail-in ballots. In several tweets over the weekend, Murphy explained that all registered voters who are Democrats and Republicans will be sent mail-in ballots and all other unaffiliated or inactive voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot application. Some polls around the state will also be open. The mail-in ballots will be counted up to seven days after election day.
There is concern about social distancing at the Jersey Shore after a weekend of images of people waiting in long lines on the boardwalk in Belmar to buy beach passes. Belmar's mayor says adjustments need to be made in time for Memorial Day. That's the weekend Gov. Phil Murphy gave the go-ahead for beach reopening.
A local entertainment venue hasn't welcomed customers in months, but the show goes on anyway. "Since we can't open for guests in person right now, we thought it would be a really good idea to reinvent the dinner theater experience," says Oliver Blatt. He says that means the Pines Dinner Theatre in Allentown is selling tickets that give customers online access to the theatre's latest show as well as a take-home meal. The latest musical is timely. It's a one-act musical called 'Quarantine: The Online Musical Comedy'.
A 23-year-old from Allentown is being awarded the Taco Bell Foundation's Live Mas scholarship. Taco Bell manager Lauren Foose was one of 11 students nationwide to win the grand prize of $25,000. In her application video, Foose said she wanted the scholarship not only to go back and finish her dual degree in psychology and business but to show her employees it's not too late.
Back in February 80 acres burned on Mt. Tammany on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Sunday afternoon, another brush fire broke out. It began just before 1 o'clock where the old Blue Dot and Mt. Tammany trails meet. While February's fire burned for two days, Sunday's fire was nearly 100 percent contained within a few hours.
PennDOT officials say 2019 saw record lows in highway deaths. Last year, PennDOT is reporting 1059 highway fatalities, which is down 131 from 2018 and the lowest since records started being kept in 1928. Unrestrained fatalities were down by more than 60 year-over year to a 20-year low.