The three-week statewide ban on indoor dining at restaurants in Pennsylvania expired at 8 o'clock this morning. Restaurants with a COVID certification can once again serve customers indoors at 50 percent capacity, while those who don't have the certification can serve customers at 25 percent capacity. Also beginning this morning, gyms and entertainment venues are also permitted to reopen, while K-12 sports can resume.
Another drive-thru COVID-19 testing site opens today in the Lehigh Valley. Lehigh County's interim Emergency Management Agency director Tanya Hook says Coca-Cola Park is hosting the COVID testing today through Friday from 9am to 6pm. "One of the reasons we chose this week is because it's right after the holidays. We thought we might see an influx of people looking to get tested and we were looking to take some of the burden off the other testing sites that are out there," Hook says. She says the site should be able to accommodate 450 people each day. Testing is being done on a first-come, first-serve basis and no appointments are necessary. You are asked to bring some sort of photo ID or an insurance card.
New Jersey's coronavirus transmission rate is steadily decreasing and staying below one-percent. Sunday, the state's transmission rate came in at .92, which is down from .93 on Saturday. Any number above one-percent means each person who has coronavirus is spreading the disease to more than one person. Meanwhile, New Jersey reported 3676 additional cases on Sunday.
The cause of a weekend fire in Allentown remains under investigation. The fire started around 3:30 Sunday afternoon in the 300 block of South 16th Street. Half of the duplex was heavily damaged, displacing five people. No injuries were reported.
Two women are dead after a house fire in Reading. The fire happened Saturday night in the 1200 block of Chestnut Street. Two women perished in the flames, but their identities have not yet been released. Autopsies are planned for today. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
New toll increases are in effect on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Over the weekend, a six-percent increase was imposed for E-Z Pass users. Those without E-Z Pass are now subject to a 45-percent toll hike. Previously, toll-by-plate customers paid the same rate as E-Z Pass holders. PennDOT eliminated cash tolls back in the spring to help limit contact between drivers and toll collectors.
There won't be the traditional pomp-and-circumstance tomorrow for the state House and Senate's swearing-in day. The event will be closed to the general public and just a limited number of guests will be allowed into the Capitol. There are 30 freshmen in the state House and Senate taking the oath Tuesday.
Pennsylvania St. Rep. Mike Reese has died at the age of 42. Reese died Saturday from an apparent brain aneurysm. He had been in the state House since 2009. Reese leaves behind a wife and three children. Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all commonwealth flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Reese.
New Jersey is no longer using the term "freeholders." Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation back in August, mandating the title be changed to "commissioner" come the first of the new year. The term, "Board of Chosen Freeholders" has also been replaced by "Board of County Commissioner." For years, people have opposed the "freeholder" title, claiming it was racist since it stemmed from a 15th Century legal term which stood for someone who owned land free of debt or legal claims. Counties have a year to update official documentation, like letterhead and stationary.
The Eagles ended their 2020 season the way they started it: losing to Washington. The result leaves Washington the NFC East champs. After the 20-14 loss, Eagles' coach Doug Pederson was asked about his relationship with benched quarterback Carson Wentz. "I have got the utmost respect for him and I feel like that we can, together, get these things corrected and get back on track and that's my mindset going into the offseason," Pederson says. The Eagles end the season 4-11-1 and they'll pick sixth in this spring's NFL Draft.