COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania are continuing to rise throughout the state. Officials say Wednesday saw another increase of nearly 1000 new cases, pushing the state total to just fewer than 98,000. 26 new coronavirus-related deaths were reported Wednesday as well, leaving the state's overall number at 6957.
Gov. Tom Wolf is painting a pretty bleak coronavirus picture. "We hit our peak on April 9th we had nearly 2000 new cases that day. Medical experts looking at our current trajectory are projecting a new surge is in the offing," the governor says. Wolf says those experts think that surge could lead to more daily cases of coronavirus than we saw back in the spring. In an effort to contain the spread, the governor has imposed new restrictions that have taken effect today. Among those restrictions: limiting bars and restaurants to 25 percent of capacity; closing all nightclubs; and allowing alcohol to only be served on site with a meal. Indoor events of more than 25 people will be prohibited as well as outdoor gatherings of more than 250, however the governor says places of worship are exempt. Finally, businesses will be required to work from home whenever possible.
Gov. Tom Wolf says he's willing to pull the plug on reopening schools if the recent surge in COVID-19 cases continues. Wolf adds that move could be irrelevant because the fear of students and teachers becoming infected would likely keep them out of the classroom. Wolf says that concern was a major motivator in the move to impose new mitigation restrictions on bars and restaurants Wednesday.
State lawmakers are trying to limit the governor's disaster powers. Both the state House and Senate passed the bill to amend the state constitution, limiting a disaster declaration to 21 days without an extension being approved by lawmakers with a majority vote. The measure has to be approved by both chambers again during the next legislative session, which starts in January, before it can go to a statewide referendum vote.
Officials with the PIAA say they're moving forward with the fall sports season, unless they're told otherwise by the state. Officials say their focus is on the health and safety of student athletes, which is paramount in moving forward with athletics. They add that each member school has developed health and safety guidelines to allow athletes to continue. The organization also says they remain flexible should conditions change.
Delaware is now off the quarantine list for Pennsylvania residents. The state Department of Health removed Delaware after being added to the list Sunday. There are now 18 states identified by the health department as areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, requiring anyone who visits those states to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the state will go after visitors from other states who violate the Garden State's travel quarantine mandate. He didn't specify what punishment would be handed out but he says the Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has the authority to impose a penalty. The travel quarantine applies to 22 states where coronavirus cases surged recently.
Allentown City Council is moving forward with a resolution that if passed, could take away resources from the Allentown Police Deparment. The bill is heading to the Committee of the Whole, which meets July 29th and the bill states it will, "take public comment and work on recommendations for policing in Allentown." Topics to be reviewed at the meeting include mandating body-camera use, banning no-knock warrants, banning stop and frisk, ways to make body camera footage available to the public and more. The bill also wants to establish a Citizens Review Board.
An Allentown murder suspect has been arrested in Puerto Rico. 22-year-old Kenith Otero-Ruiz was arrested by U.S. Marshals and Homeland Security and is awaiting extradition back to the Lehigh Valley. He's accused of killing Jose Melendez in Trout Park during an argument on July 4th.
The state Senate is passing a bill to revamp the state's probation system. Supporters say this legislation will immediately improve the lives of many trapped in an inequitable probation system. The bill aims to reduce probation sentences by implementing hearings after a certain amount of time depending on the offense, a move that probation officers have advocated for. It also calls for credits to be offered to reduce sentences through incentives such as holding a job or completing a degree.
They were first detected in New Jersey two years ago and today, the spotted lanternfly has quickly become a nuisance for homeowners and a pest for farmers. Lanternflies multiply quickly and feast on plants. The invasive species is a threat to vineyards. Eight counties have confirmed infestations and are under a voluntary quarantine.