Primary Election Day has arrived in Pennsylvania. Each party's presidential races are officially contested, but the outcomes have long been decided. However, there are a handful of party nominations up for grabs lower on the ballot. The highest profile local race comes on the Republican side of the ballot with Dean Browning and Lisa Scheller facing off for the party nod in the 7th Congressional District to oppose incumbent Susan Wild. In the 131st state House District, Republican Justin Simmons is not seeking re-election and four Republicans are on the ballot looking to replace him. Republican St. Rep. Marcia Hahn has also decided against running again and two Republicans are looking to get their party's nomination today. In the 22nd House District, incumbent Peter Schweyer is being challenged by Enid Santiago, with the winner almost certainly getting the job in November because there are no Republican candidates in the race. In a statewide race, Democrats will see six names on the ballot for Auditor General.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is extending the deadline for mail-in ballots to be counted in six counties. Wolf says his order will give Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties about seven days after today's primary to submit the mail-in ballots. He wants to ensure that residents in those counties can receive and cast their ballots in time as the state and nation continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic along with civil unrest. The deadline to hand deliver mail-in or absentee ballots in all counties remains 8 o'clock tonight. In the six counties getting that extension, mailed in ballots still must be postmarked with today's date and received by their county elections office by 5pm on June 9th.
Pennsylvania's health officials report 356 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the state total to more than 72,000. Monday, the state added a dozen new deaths to the count, bringing the coronavirus-related death toll to 5567.
The daily count of New Jersey deaths from the coronavirus continues to decline. Monday's number was 27, with 509 new cases reported as well. State health officials say there are still more than 2300 people still hospitalized today.
There's a spike in the past month of coronavirus-related deaths among the vulnerable population of those with disabilities living in group homes, apartments and centers overseen by the state. The latest numbers show 841 residents testing positive and 135 deaths since the pandemic began. At the beginning of April, there were only 12 deaths. An official representing group homes blames the state for not getting them the proper PPE early in the pandemic.
A group of anonymous health department employees is calling the state's response to the pandemic inside nursing homes an "unmitigated failure" that led to preventable deaths. The group wants Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean to investigate. The group is also calling for New Jersey Health Commissioner Judity Persichilli to resign. Gov. Phil Murphy's spokesperson says they won't dignify anonymous allegations with a response.
Another local university is trimming staff and pay. Lehigh University is furloughing staff beginning July 1st and cutting the pay of senior university leaders by 20% and college deans by 10%. Lafayette College mad a similar announcement last week and Moravian and Muhlenberg colleges have also furloughed so-called non-essential workers.
State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine is walking a fine line between public health and the right to peacefully protest. "We certainly respect Pennsylvanians' right to protest and demonstrate, especially in these very difficult and challenging times," Levine says. However, she adds, "We would want them to be safe and to wear a mask and practice social distancing as much as possible." However, with zero social distancing happening in the protests, Levine says her department will be looking for increases in certain areas that have had those demonstrations.
Protesters in Stroudsburg shouted "I can't breathe," as hundreds gathered for another protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd while in custody of a Minneapolis policeman. Monroe County Sheriff Ken Morris walked side-by-side with demonstrators and says it felt good to show them that he and his department don't support what the Minneapolis officer did.
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey says lawmakers need to act now to prevent nationwide rioting like we're seeing in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. "Policy makers at all levels of government should make sure we're doing what we can to minimize the risk of future such events," Toomey says. He says the death of Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota was sickening to watch and angered him.
Philadelphia has been set under a curfew again. A citywide curfew began at 6pm last night and ran through 6 o'clock this morning. Thousands of protesters shut down I-676 in Center City before police used tear gas to clear the area. The Pennsylvania National Guard is now assisting Philadelphia police in containing the violence.
Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner is commending the peaceful protesters in his city. "The really good news is we had thousands of people here who are doing exactly what the Constitution says. They're exercising free speech, which is one of the best ways to keep down violence," Krasner says. He says most of the arrests are for looting, assaults and curfew violations.
A Lower Macungie Township woman had pleaded guilty to hitting and killing a pedestrian in 2018. 55-year-old Sahar Atiyeh could get up to a year in jail after pleading guilty to homicide by vehicle and speeding charges. 37-year-old Scott White, of Carbon County, was killed in the accident on Mauch Chunk Road in October 2018.
Hershey's Chocolate World will reopen this Friday. In an email sent to their retail team Monday, officials say they'll only open their retail area daily. The other attractions at the tourist spot will remain closed. Grab-and-go food will be available as well.
The Philadelphia Phillies are reducing employee salaries as they get ready to endure financial losses. Phillies managing partner John Middleton sent employees an email projecting losses of more than $100 million with MLB still out of action because of the coronavirus. Middleton also announced salary cuts for anyone making $90,000 or more. The percentage of those cuts will be determined by salary level.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is speaking out on the death of George Floyd. Wentz, via Twitter, said "All I know is that the institutional racism in this country breaks my heart and needs to stop." Wentz grew up in North Dakota, about six hours from Minneapolis.