Here's what's trending for July 17.


Pennsylvania's Department of Health announced 781 new COVID-19 cases statewide. That brings the overall total here to 98,446. Another 16 coronavirus-related deaths were announced Thursday as well, pushing that number to 6973.

New Jersey health officials report the state's death rate from the coronavirus has risen to 15,665, while the rate of transmission has also increased. The transmission rate tracks how many people catch the virus from one infected person. A rate below one means the virus is diminishing, but New Jersey's rate, which had been below one, has risen back up to one.

Pennsylvania's departments of health and education are issuing recommendations for how to reopen K through 12 schools. Officials say opening schools in the fall is obviously important, but it's critical to provide schools with the tools to do it safely. The guidelines include wearing masks by students and staff while at school and on buses, social distancing, changing class times and walking patterns. A symptom screening is supposed to be done before kids leave for school and cafeterias are being encouraged to serve packaged meals and avoid cross-table seating. Education leaders emphasized that it's up to school districts to figure out what combination of in-person and remote learning is best for them.

Northampton County is planning to spend more than $800,000 in federal COVID-19 funds to provide internet access for students in need, veterans and seniors. School leaders say online education was becoming more important even before the pandemic and when families are struggling financially, one of the first things to go is the internet. The decision is taking about three-percent of the more than $27 million in stimulus funds the state received. Students in need can apply directly to the county for vouchers to get internet service from local providers.

More money is on the way for workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. "The General Assembly and I have taken $50 million from CARES Act funding and are directing that to provide hazard pay to the folks who do the things that we need them to do to keep us all alive," says Gov. Tom Wolf. He says that money will be dispersed by the end of this month.

Gov. Tom Wolf is following through on a threat to withhold COVID-19 funding from Lebanon County. Wolf placed the blame on the county's Republican commissioners, who voted to move the county into the yellow reopening phase in May without the governor's approval. Wolf withheld $13 million for the county and added Thursday that the county commissioners should not say they want something from the state when they haven't followed the rules. The governor went on to say that there are consequences and these are those consequences.

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey agrees with protesters upset by a video of an incident involving Allentown police officers. The video shows three officers restraining a man who was allegedly spitting and being noncompliant. One of the officers is shown placing his knee on the man's head and neck area to subdue him. Casey says the video is disturbing and a clear example of excessive force and called for reform to change police policies and root out racism in the criminal justice system. The Lehigh County DA's office is investigating the incident and the Allentown Police Department is conducting an internal use-of-force investigation as well.

Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg says a heat wave will begin tomorrow. "The heat really builds. 92 tomorrow. 94 Sunday and probably over 90 again Monday and Tuesday," Lundberg says. He believes a couple of those days will have Accu-Weather RealFeel temperatures well above 100 degrees.

Some Pennsylvania univeristies could be integrated with others to help keep costs down. Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education officials are launching a study into streamlining six schools to operate with singular leadership teams, faculty and academic programs.

Federal, state and Lancaster County authorities say they're assembling a timeline surrounding the abduction of an Amish woman. Authorities say they still want to talk to anyone who saw a red Kia Rio in the Bird-In-Hand area around Father's Day. 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos was abducted June 21st and there has been no sign of her since. Police arrested 34-year-old Justo Smoker in connection with the case last weekend but want to know more about his car's movements.

The plan to shut down a homeless camp in Philadelphia is on hold. The camp is at 22nd Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway. City representatives want people to get housing but they say the federal government is making it difficult for that. The area has been the site of crime recently. Leaders in Philly and camp organizers will meet next week.

The Philadelphia Phillies are mourning the loss of a popular former player and coach. Tony Taylor died Thursday from complications of a stroke he suffered last year. Taylor had more than 2000 hits in a 19-year career, with 15 of those years spent in Philadelphia.