Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale isn't very complimentary of the process used by the state to determine which Pennsylvania businesses could remain open at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. "What is clear, so far in our review, is that the waivers were not granted consistently. That may not be news for business owners who have been complaining about this from the very beginning," the auditor general says. DePasquale says an initial review of the process shows it to have been "remarkably subjective" and he calls it "a Keystone Kops routine."
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is accusing the United States Postal Service under orders of the Trump administration of delaying Lehigh Valley mail from reaching residents. Casey's office says postal workers in Scranton took photos on September 25th showing at least five tractor-trailer loads of delayed mail sent from the Lehigh Valley facility, sitting in theirs. Casey says Postmaster General Louis DeJoy promised to reverse changes that were slowing mail, but it's clear, according to Casey, that his only policy is to delay and deny.
New Jersey will be counting mail-in ballots ahead of the general election. Federal Judge Michael Shipp made the decision Tuesday, saying counties could start counting mail-in ballots ten days before Election Day. Shipp also says counties can accept ballots two days after November 3rd if they aren't postmarked, claiming the moves are necessary to help counties handle the surge of mail-in ballots this election cycle. This comes as New Jersey Republicans sued the state over its plan to send every registered voter a mail-in ballot.
The limits on crowd size at both indoor and outdoor events in Pennsylvania are being tweaked. Beginning Friday indoor venues of less than 2000 maximum capacity will be allowed up to 20-percent of capacity. Indoor venues of between 2000 and 10,000 maximum capacity will be allowed up to 15-percent of capacity. Venues over 10,000 will permitted to admit 10-percent of capacity up to 3750 people. Outdoor venues with less than 2000 person capacity will be allowed 25-percent maximum occupancy. Venues between 2000 and 10,000 capacity can admit 20-percent of their capacity and any outdoor event of more than 10,000 will be allowed 15-percent of occupancy up to 7500 people. Six-foot social distancing and mask wearing will still be required. Local restrictions like those in Philadelphia supersede this new order.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has added 1036 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the overall state total to 165,243 since the pandemic began. There were 17 new coronavirus-related deaths reported Tuesday. That statewide number now sits at 8244.
Some people who attended President Trump's fundraiser last week in Bedminster are refusing to self-quarantine. This comes after New Jersey Health officials tracked down roughly 200 people who attended the event with President Trump, who announced hours later that he tested positive for coronavirus. One person not quarantining is Rik Mehta, who is running against incumbent Sen. Cory Booker. Gov. Phil Murphy is criticizing Mehta, who says he's not worried since he was at least 40 feet away from the President at all times.
The president of Lafayette College is stepping down at the end of her contract in June. President Alison Byerly announced her decision Tuesday. She became the school's 17th president and first female leader in 2013. Byerly said she plans to take a sabbatical, then spend the 2021-2022 school year as a visiting scholar in English at the University of Pennsylvania.
History has been made in Bethlehem with city council's approval of that city's first-ever woman police chief. Michelle Kott was previously a captain in the Bethlehem PD before city council voted unanimously for Kott to become the next police chief, effective immediately. Kott says she's humbled to have the opportunity to serve both the community and the city's police officers. Kott says one of her focuses will be to listen to residents during these difficult times.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is warning that America is in a dangerous place because of deep divisions. He campaigned Tuesday in Gettysburg and said that town symbolizes the cost of division in America. "About how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it's costing now and about why I believe in this moment we must come together as a nation," Biden said. He said there's no room for hate in America and noted the words of President Abraham Lincoln, that a house divided cannot stand.
New Jersey is furthering its fight against opioid addiction. State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says at least 225 medical facilities are asking for technology that could better identify patients who may be at heightened risk for abuse or overdose. This comes about five weeks after Grewal announced the state would be allotting $1.2 million in federal funding to integrate technology statewide, allowing doctors to see the kinds of medications their patients are prescribed. The Attorney General says the overwhelming response from facilities is encouraging and he hopes the latest technology proves effective to fighting the opioid crisis.