543,329 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania, including more than 88,000 people who are considered fully covered after receiving two doses. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Thursday confirmed 5664 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 788,834. 260 new deaths related to the coronavirus were also reported Thursday, pushing Pennsylvania's overall total to 20,128.
A 30-year-old Lehigh County corrections officer has died and Gary Dean's family says it was from the coronavirus. Maximus Weikel, with the corrections officers' union, says Lehigh County needs to act to prevent this from happening to another guard. "We need to increase staff and lower the inmate population," Weikel says. Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong says it's not that easy. "There is actually a shortage of labor. We are doing what we can. We're trying to start new classes. We're doing the best we can and we're working with the union. It's not an easy solution and it's everywhere, not just at our jail," says Armstrong. One inmate has died inside the jail since the pandemic began. The Lehigh County coroner's office has not yet made an official ruling on Dean's death, but his family says he tested positive for coronavirus last month and his condition deteriorated before he died Tuesday afternoon.
Freedom High School is being closed and students will move to virtual learning due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Officials say it's a preemptive closure as around ten cases of the virus have been reported this week, but they don't appear to be connected to the school. They added that the pause will give the school a chance to complete contact tracing and get the spread under control. Beginning today, students will transition to remote learning, but the school will have a modified schedule next week as students are slated to take the state Keystone Exams.
German discount grocer Lidl, which has a store on South 25th Street in Wilson, says it will pay its employees an extra $200 to get the coronavirus vaccine. The company says nearly 80-percent of its employees have indicated they plan to get the vaccine as soon as they're able.
New Jersey isn't meeting its potential for COVID vaccinations and Gov. Phil Murphy is pointing fingers. According to CDC data, about 432,000 of the more-than-900,000 doses have been administered. Murphy says that's not on the state, but Walgreens Pharmacy that is slowly administering shots. The governor says the company is "punching below their weight."
They're talking about banning plastic bags in Northampton County. During Thursday night's Energy, Environment and Land Use Committee meeting, Committee Chairwoman Tara Zrinski raised the issue. Such legislation could ban some thin plastic bags entirely and add a fee, perhaps 15 cents each at checkout for heavier ones, to encourage people to bring reusable bags to stores. Pennsylvania currently bars municipalities from instituting bag bans until at least July. Officials in Philadelphia are considering filing a suit to lift the prohibition, saying the state overstepped its bounds by telling cities and towns not to put limits on single-use plastics.
A 44-year-old Easton man was arrested Wednesday morning at his College Hill home on child pornography charges. Investigators searched the Porter Street home of James Moessinger Wednesday morning and then arrested him. His preliminary hearing is set for February 1st.
Allentown City Council has approved the nomination of Seth O'Neill to serve as the city's next finance director. He replaces former Finance Director Brent Hartzell, who left the position in February 2020. O'Neill has been employed by the city since August 2007, most recently serving as operation manager in the Revenue and Audit Bureau for the last seven years.
Pennsylvania St. Rep. Ed Gainey is proposing a bill in support of automatic voter registration in the state. Gainey proposed a bill that would automatically register certain people to vote. The proposed legislation would affect those who use services in Human Services, Transportation and Military and Veteran Affairs departments. There are currently 19 states that have automatic voter registration.
The New Jersey Department of Health is being granted millions of dollars to address suicide among young people. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is putting $3.68 million to work with sister agencies and community-based organizations to strengthen services to youth at risk of suicide.
One New Jersey senator is taking the lead to overhaul the nation's immigration system. President Joe Biden is asking Congress to figure out a way 11,000,000 people will become United States citizens after entering illegally and Bob Menendez will head the efforts in the Senate. The measure would apply to anyone living in the United States before January 1st and allow migrants to apply for protected status while mandating them to pay taxes and pass a background check.
The Philadelphia Eagles have made their choice to replace Doug Pederson as head coach. The Eagles are hiring Nick Sirianni to replace Pederson, who was fired last week. Sirianni has spend the last three years in Indianapolis as the Colts' offensive coordinator. The Eagles reportedly interviewed ten candidates to fill the job before choosing Sirianni.
The American Hockey League is announcing the league's 2021 schedule later today. It's still unclear how the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will handle allowing fans back into the PPL Center.
The Flyers are down two more players. Defenseman Phil Myers is out with a broken rib and center Morgan Frost has a dislocated shoulder. Myers is considered to be week-to-week, while Frost has been placed on IR and must remain there until January 26th at the earliest. Both were injured in Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Buffalo.