An ex-DeSales University priest has been indicted on child pornography charges. U.S. Attorney William McSwain says 56-year-old William McCandless traveled overseas frequently and had been assigned to a parish in Monaco from 2010 to 2017. And McSwain says it was while in Monaco that McCandless collected thousands of pornographic images, some depicting the torture of very young children. When he returned to the U.S., McSwain says McCandless continued to search for those type of images as well as ways to erase items from the cloud. McCandless worked as a counselor at DeSales for eight-and-a-half months in 2017 until the school learned he was under investigation for allegedly abusing a 14-year-old boy at a church camp. McCandless has been ordered under house arrest and has been forced to turn over his passport.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting 11,406 new coronavirus cases. Thursday's numbers, which are the biggest one-day increase to date, bring the statewide total to 386,387 since the pandemic began. Another 187 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported Thursday. 10,944 Pennsylvania deaths are now being attributed to the coronavirus.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine says there are nearly 5000 people hospitalized for coronavirus in Pennsylvania. Levine says that's beginning to place a strain on hospitals. "There are more than 1000 COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit. We have seen that a number of counties in Pennsylvania have only a few intensive care beds left, or actually no intensive care unit beds left," Levine says. Here in the Lehigh Valley, both St. Luke's University and Lehigh Valley networks say their caseloads are manageable and they have beds left.
Gov. Tom Wolf is urging the federal government to extend unemployment programs that are set to expire on December 31st. Wolf says without an extension, three-quarters of a million Pennsylvanians will be without any unemployment benefits, which will hurt the commonwealth both socially and economically. The governor emphasized the number of COVID-19 cases are only going to continue surging in the coming weeks, putting the public and economy in danger.
New Jersey is once again breaking its own record when it comes to new coronavirus infections recorded in one day. Thursday, the state reported just shy of 5000 new cases at 4913 infections. Hospitalizations are also going up with Gov. Phil Murphy saying the increase seems to indicate the virus is moving fast. He adds the fight is nowhere near over and is again urging residents to follow proper coronavirus protocols like wearing a mask and social distancing.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues pummeling the US, Congress has remained locked in a bitter political stalemate for months with both Democratic and Republican leaders refusing to budge on key issues for a new coronavirus relief package. But that might be changing. "Now, it looks as though, maybe at the urging of Joe Biden, the Democrats seem to be adopting a new flexibility and being willing to give up some of their, I think, outlandish ambitions," Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey said.
Property taxes will remain level in Northampton County after County Council approved a 2021 budget Thursday night. The budget approved means property taxes will remain at 11.8 mills next year.
A Bethlehem man faces charges for allegedly stabbing his ex-wife lsat Friday while drunk. Police say they arrived to a home on Greenview Drive around 8 o'clock last Friday night after the victim reported she was stabbed several times in the back by Robert Morrow following an argument. Morrow was arrested about 20 minutes after the incident when he was found drunk on the ground near the 1800 block of Schoenersville Road and he reportedly told officers this was bound to happen. The victim was taken to the hospital, where she was treated for her wounds. A preliminary hearing for Morrow is scheduled for December 30th.
New Jersey is furthering its efforts to transform the criminal justice system for juveniles. Thursday, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal put forth a statewide directive that law enforcement needs to reform practices and procedures when dealing with minors. The measure essentially aims to divert kids away from law enforcement and towards social and familial support as long as it's in line with public safety and welfare. Grewal says the move helps rehabilitate young people while keeping them away from formal court proceedings and instead push them toward community support.