In a preview of what's to come in next week's annual budget address, Gov. Tom Wolf hsa outlined three general areas he wants to focus on in 2021. "I want to get Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania back on track. We can now see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and I want to make sure we're ready and able to get back on track quickly. Second, I want to build on the bipartisan progress, the things we've already done together. And third I want to change the culture of Harrisburg politics to increase accountability and transparency," Wolf says. More specifically, the governor says he'll once again push to increase the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour, reform the criminal justice system, limit special interest influence in Harrisburg and spend billions on a reformed workforce development system. Wolf's budget address is scheduled for February 2nd.
6036 new cases of coronavirus were reported Thursday by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, however more than 1200 of those are backlogged cases collected over a week ago at urgent care centers. 198 new COVID-19-related deaths were also reported. There are currently 3768 people hospitalized due to the coronavirus, with 759 in intensive care. For more news and numbers about the pandemic, enter the keyword 'COVID.'
Beginning Monday, all Bethlehem Health Bureau COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be held at the Wind Creek Event Center. The health bureau says it needs a larger venue after the commonwealth expanded the list of those eligible to receive the vaccine. Anybody who has already scheduled a vaccine appointment through the Bethlehem Health Bureau will be notified of the new location. Meanwhile, the Allentown Health Bureau continues to hold its vaccine clinic at the Agri-Plex at the Allentown Fairgrounds. As of Thursday, Pennsylvania says more than 856,000 vaccines have been administered across the state.
The first half of the weekend is clear and cold. The second half appears to be white. "Clouds come in on Sunday, but I think precipitation from that storm holds off until after dark. That's when the snow will begin sometime Sunday evening and last through Monday," says Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg. He says when all is said and done, you should expect six-to-ten inches of snow Sunday through Monday.
Youth Education in the Arts has shut down. YEA board chairperson Doug Rutherford blames the closure on the pandemic's impact on its programs. However, the organization lost more than $1.5 million in sponsorships, donations and ticket sales after its former CEO George Hopkins was accused of sexual misconduct by almost a dozen women. Hopkins eventually pleaded no contest to indecent assault. The nonprofit best known for its drum and bugle corps program has vacated its lease at the Musselman building on Hamilton Street in Allentown.
The Allentown School District Board of Directors has approved the purchase of stop-arm cameras, which will be installed on district buses. The cameras capture video of vehicles that illegally pass stopped school buses with flashing red lights. That footage can then be used as evidence for law enforcement.
Police are looking for the driver involved in a hit-and-run that injured one person in Williams Township Thursday. Police were called to a Turkey Hill convenience store on Morgan Hill Road, near I-78, after the victim was hit while pumping gas. The driver crashed into the victim and pinned them between the two vehicles, injuring their legs.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services says the state has received a $340,000 grant to develop a new suicide prevention lifeline. The new, national lifeline will be activated in July 2022 and will replace the current lifeline. The 988 call number will provide for easier access for those in need of immediate intervention.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission are rolling out a new app. It's called Hunt Fish PA and it allows hunters and anglers to renew their licenses or report game harvests. It replaces the Pennsylvania Automatic Licensing System.
New Jersey officials are championing Gov. Phil Murphy's decision to push back the deadline for residents to enroll in state-run health care. New Jerseyans now have until May 15th to apply, with Sen. Bob Menendez saying everyone should have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Murphy has also signed an executive order that aims to make healthcare more affordable by creating an inter-agency healthcare affordability group to find ways to lower costs and form policies. He's aiming to figure out why healthcare costs continue to rise and establish "affordability standards."
New Jersey lawmakers continue working towards legalizing recreational marijuana as the deadline to sign two reform bills is coming up. One bill revises legislation for underage possession and consumption, which has been passed by both houses. Legislators had approved two bills last month, but Gov. Phil Murphy wanted to work on penalties for minors. What's in the reworked bill hasn't yet been made public.