The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced 735 new COVID-19 cases across the Commonwealth. That includes two days of Philadelphia cases. The statewide total now stands at 125,579 since the pandemic began. 31 more deaths related to coronavirus complications were announced Tuesday, pushing the state's total to 7499.
Pennsylvania is getting a new weapon in its fight against coronavirus. "I'm very pleased to announced that we will be able to provide the COVID Alert PA application to Pennsylvanians beginning in September," says State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. She says the smartphone app will hopefully help with contact tracing people who have been exposed to COVID-19. The app would utilize Bluetooth technology to help notify those affected without compromising a patient's identity or location.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is trying to make it clear that masks are to be worn at almost all times by students in school. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says masks must be worn in school, even when students and educators are six feet apart. Exceptions are when students are six feet apart and eating or drinking or taking brief breaks, or when wearing a face-covering is unsafe to operate equipment or carry out a task.
Pennsylvania is opting in on President Trump's offering of $300-per-week in unemployment benefits. State Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak says the state will pursue the payments, however it's unclear when the money will begin to reach those who need it. Oleksiak says the state would prefer the larger $600-per-week payment that expired at the end of July.
At least 139 school districts across New Jersey have told the state they plan to begin their school year with all remote instruction over COVID-19 concerns. Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy said school districts that were unable to meet requirements for in-person instruction could employ remote instruction as long as they had plans to return to in-person classes. The state Board of Education must approve those plans.
Two states have been placed back on New Jersey's self-quarantine travel list. Delaware and Alaska bring the total number of states and territories on New Jersey's list to 35. Those states have hit a positivity rate of 10-percent or higher. People traveling from those locations, including residents returning home, are being asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days and to seek a coronavirus test after arriving.
August 18th is now Kevin Conklin Day in Bethlehem. Mayor Robert Donchez made the declaration Tuesday to recognize the 16-year-old's heroics earlier this month. The Liberty High School student dove into a drain pipe after seeing a young boy get sucked into it following heavy rain from Tropical Storm Isaias. Both Kevin and the boy were eventually rescued by a bystander who lowered a ladder into the pipe. Neither of the boys were seriously hurt.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is one of the attorneys general suing the Trump administration over its plans for the United States postal system. "The Trump administration has no authority to disrupt how Pennsylvania exercises its rights under the election clause," the attorney general says. Shapiro says the suit aims to prevent cuts to mail service between now and Election Day.
New Jersey lawmakers are considering a package of bills that would help create a more diverse list of educators and would also help tackle the state's teacher shortage. Senate Education Chairperson Teresa Ruiz introcued the package of bills, which include a requirement that teachers complete two hours of professional development related to cultural competency. The measures won praise from the New Jersey Children's Foundation.