631 new coronavirus cases were added to the commonwealth's total Wednesday, bringing that number to 103,396 since the pandemic began. 25 new COVID-related deaths were reported Wednesday. That number in Pennsylvania has now hit 7063. Wednesday's numbers don't include Philadelphia, which didn't submit information in time for the release.
Allentown School District's superintendent is urging the school board to approve his suggestion to reopen schools online rather than in-person. Thomas Parker says he doesn't believe the time is right to bring students and staff back into the classroom. "We need a bit more time to identify what the spread will be. We can still assure the kids are in a high-quality learning environment in our virtual campus and that's the right decision for us today," Parker says. He says the district will reassess the situation at the end of the first quarter. The school board is expected to vote on the issue at its meeting tonight.
Last month, Lafayette College vice president Mark Eyerly said the plan was to welcome students back to campus in mid-August. "The goal is to try and have a semester that looks as normal as possible and deliver the strongest educational experience as possible while keeping everybody healthy and safe," Eyerly said then. However, Wednesday Lafayette President Allison Byerly announced a change of course and Lafayette will be going with online learning when classes resume next month. Byerly says the country's surge of coronavirus cases and the impact on coronavirus testing supplies, means the college's testing protocol to allow students to live in dorms was no longer practical. So instead of a four-percent hike tuition, fees and room and board, Lafayette will reduce tuition ten-percent for students learning from home.
Lebanon County is taking Gov. Tom Wolf to court to get the nearly $13 million in federal CARES Act money. The governor says the funding is being withheld after the Lebanon County commissioners moved the county into the yellow reopening phase against his wishes. The lawsuit accuses the governor of a gross abuse of power and of acting like a de facto king.
Pittsburgh is being identified along with ten other U.S. cities that need to take aggressive action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Deborah Birx, who is one of the leading members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, identified Pittsburgh among the cities she recommends perform contact tracing for those who test positive to help mitigate the virus' spread.
The state Department of Health says it won't allow the Toronto Blue Jays to call PNC Park in Pittsburgh its home this summer. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says adding travelers to the Pittsburgh area for any reason, including professional sports events, risks residents, visitors and members of both teams. The Blue Jays are looking for somewhere else to play after the team and Major League Baseball weren't given an exemption from Canada's Quarantine Act, which essentially prohibits them from playing in Toronto.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the infection rate of COVID-19 in nursing homes there is down significantly from two months ago. In late May, six-percent of New Jersey nursing home residents and three-percent of staff tested positive for the virus. Today, Murphy says the rate for residents and staff is under one-percent. The death rate in New Jersey nursing homes remains the nation's highest.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says indoor yoga studios and martial arts facilities are among the latest businesses that can reopen. The studios must no exceed 25-percent capacity and all participants must wear masks. The governor made the announcement Wednesday as the state reported an additional 390 cases and 24 more deaths related to COVID-19. Murphy says he wants to open the state more, but that 390 cases are still too high and show the virus is still out there.
More than 1000 protesters converged on the state Capitol Thursday demanding Gov. Tom Wolf end Pennsylvania's coronavirus-related restrictions. "We don't want a nanny state. We want to be free Americans, walk as free Americans," one protester said. The complaint protesters were most vocal about was the feeling that they're being deprived of their right to choose.
One man is dead after a fire in Carbon County Wednesday evening. It happened just before 6 p.m. on Oak Street in Parryville. Firefighters saw smoke coming from a third-floor attic window when they arrived and found the body of a man when they were going through the home. Officials haven't said how that person died.
A serious crash is under investigation in Lehigh County. It happened Wednesday night near the Home Depot Warehouse on Nestle Way in Upper Macungie Township. A vehicle ended up on its side in between some trees in a clearing. One person was transported from the scene, but there's no word on their condition or what caused the crash.
Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg says it could be thunderstorms part two today. "I think most places will get one late this afternoon. Like four or five o'clock until maybe ten or 11 o'clock tonight and then things will settle down late tonight," Lundberg says. Any of those storms could bring damaging winds and some flash flooding.
Gov. Tom Wolf is reacting to the photo from the Bloomsburg Fair's Facebook page that featured a man dressed as a woman allegedly mocking the state's health secretary. Wolf says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought hate and transphobia into the spotlight through relentless comments and slurs directed at Dr. Rachel Levine, who he says is a valued member of his team and is transgender. He adds that the incident at the fair is the latest of these vile acts which, by extension, impact transgender people across the state and nation. Wolf urges residents to speak out against discriminatory remarks aimed at the transgender community.
Philadelphia wants the Christopher Columbus statue gone. Officials want the statue removed and taken to the city's storage facility. The Art Commission is currently reviewing feedback from the public and the statue has been boarded up since being targeted several times by protesters. The Philadelphia Historical Commission will hold a hearing Friday that will factor into a looming decision.
A Philadelphia SWAT officer is being charged with misdemeanor assault after pepper spraying protesters. The incident happened last month when officer Richard Nicoletti sprayed multiple peaceful demonstrators on I-676 in Center City. People were protesting the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and Mayor Jim Kenney issued an apology on behalf of the city. Nicoletti was charged with three counts of simple assault, one count of possession of an instrument of crime and other offenses.
Gov. Tom Wolf is appointing a new State Inspector General. Lucas Miller has been serving as the Acting State Inspector General since Bruce Beemer because a judge in Allegheny County. Wolf says Miller brings over 20 years of public service to the role and has proven to be a capable leader.
The School District of Lancaster is going to remove the name of Edward Hand from one of its middle schools. In a unanimous vote, the board decided to take the name down because of Hand's ties to slavery. The district is considering calling the school the South Ann Street Middle School or South East Middle School, with the community ultimately deciding by the end of the month.
Federal investigators say they have unspecified evidence linking the suspected killer of Judge Esther Salas' son to the murder of a men's rights attorney in California. Marc Angelucci was shot to death in his San Bernardino County home July 11th. Angelucci and attorney Roy Den Hollander were pursuing a lawsuit to force the federal government to register women along with men in a possible military draft. Hollander is suspected of murdering Daniel Anderl, the 20-year-old son of Salas, and shooting Salas' husband, 63-year-old Mark Anderl. Hollander was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Evn though there will be no fans in the stands at the Phillies games, the team will still have a unique twist to their home games. On Opening Day, the team will put cardboard cutouts of health care heroes from Jefferson Health and Nemours Children's Health System behind home plate. Those pictures will remain there for the first week of baseball. Other fans will have the opportunity to have their face seen there as well. Season ticket holders will pay $25 and everyone else $40 for that opportunity. The money raised will go towards charities of the Phillies organization. The Phillies host the Marlins tomorrow night to start their 2020 season.