The Pennsylvania Department of Health added 9605 new COVID-19 cases to its overall total, which now stands at 581,156 since the pandemic began. An additional 230 deaths related to COVID-19 complications were added to the commonwealth's total, which is now 14,442. Over the past week, Pennsylvania test positivity rates have slipped just below 16-percent.
Gov. Tom Wolf is shuffling around a healthy chunk of money. "I'm initiating the transfer of $145 million from the Workers' Compensation Fund at the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to the general fund," Wolf says. And the governor says it's now up to the legislature how to allocate that money. All businesses harmed by the pandemic are eligible to receive some of the money, but Wolf says it should go to those businesses particularly hurt, including restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues.
A federal judge is refusing requests from midstate restaurants and a trade association to block Gov. Tom Wolf's order than bans indoor dining amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Middle District judge says his court cannot step in because the groups pushing for the stay didn't demonstrate a civil rights violation. The governor's temporary ban is to be in place until at least January 4th.
Local business leaders, via the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, are ponying up some money to throw a life preserver to a sinking restaurant industry. "We going to put $150,000 out there to help our restaurants. $1500 will go to 100 restaurants," says Tony Iannelli, president of the chamber's president.
New Jersey is trying to keep restaurants afloat through the state's Economic Development Authority. Last month, the board dedicated $2 million to create the "Sustain and Serve NJ" program, which will provide funding to organizations to purchase meals in bulk from restaurants struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. Under the program, eligible organizations will receive grants of up to $100,000 to buy the meals from New Jersey-based restaurants. The application window closes January 8th.
Investigators are looking into the cause of a deadly fire in Allentown. It happened just before 10 o'clock Wednesday night in the 2700 block of Tilghman Street. "The majority of the fire was in the back, but we don't know specifically where it started," says Allentown Fire Chief Jim Wehr. Firefighters found a man on the second floor of the building and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The fire happened at a home where West End Chiropractic is located.
A man's body was found in a Carbon County home after a fire. It happened Wednesday morning in the 100 block of North Shore Drive in Penn Forest Township. State Police say a 37-year-old man was found dead inside the home. Authorities have not yet identified the man. The fire remains under investigation.
Meals on Wheels of the Greater Lehigh Valley is getting a large conation thanks to philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Scott has carved out $1.5 million for the local group as part of her recent $4 billion donation spree across the country. Scott recently became the fourth-richest woman in the world after a divorce settlement with Amazon found Jeff Bezos, shortly after which she pledged to give away half of her money to charitable causes.
Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg says we're going to have wet, windy Christmas Eve. "The heaviest of the rain holds off until very late afternoon and more than likely under the cover of darkness," Lundberg says. He says we could end up with up to three inches of rain in some areas along with winds reaching 50 miles per hour. He says flooding, downed power lines and power outages are certainly not out of the question.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission is warning hunters, boaters and fishermen about dangerous water conditions. They're asking outdoorsmen to use extra caution on or around water for the next few days. Officials say warmer temperatures, heavy rainfall and melting snow can make water levels rapidly rise and become very dangerous.
COVID-19 will no longer keep the Philadelphia Flyers' mascot out of the Wells Fargo Center. The National Hockey League is again allowing mascots to appear at games following a petition around the city demanding the change. Gritty took to Twitter to tell everyone that he will be back at home. The NHL will play an shortened 56-game season that starts on January 13th.