Thursday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 3370 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the overall state total to 856,986. There were 146 new COVID-19-related deaths also reported, leaving the state's number at 22,101. There are currently 3224 people hospitalized for coronavirus, with 657 of them in the intensive care unit.
New Jersey is reporting just over 2500 new coronavirus cases. The state has also confirmed another 101 deaths related to the virus.
Lehigh Valley doctors and state officials say the commonwealth is in a COVID-19 vaccine shortage. Officials say demand greatly exceeds the supply and it could take months before they can move onto phases 1-B and 1-C. They emphasize that close to four-million people are in phase 1-A, but only one-million doses have been administered. Officials remain optimistic as they say there's capacity to tremendously ramp up vaccinations through the Lehigh Valley and St. Luke's University health networks, but they just need doses. You're urged to pre-register for the vaccine while the state waits for more doses at www.mylvhn or www.sluhn.org.
State health officials are re-evaluating how they allocate COVID-19 vaccines to providers. Officials say they're narrowing in on a strategy that will allocate doses to providers who do it efficiently and effectively. So, providers that administer doses faster will be favored by the state to received more of those vaccines, but the state needs more data before such a strategy is implemented. This comes as some analysts rank Pennsylvania 40th in the nation for its percentage of distributed doses that have been administered.
Pennsylvania Department of Health officials say the commonwealth's working as fast as it can to get the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of those who are eligible for it. Senior Advisor Lindsey Maudlin says the current demand still far outweighs the supply, but she says despite the shortage, more than 1 million doses have been administered. "The first dose has been administered to 850,819 folks. So 78-percent of our allocation has been distributed for those folks. We are again waiting on what will happen with our federal pharmacy partnerships to see what kind of allocation occurs there," Maudlin says. She did not provide a timeline on when Pennsylvania’s general population could be vaccinated.
The Nazareth Teachers Union is dropping its threat to move to remote learning if the Nazareth Area School District didn't address COVID-19 concerns. The Nazareth Area Education Association says they accepted the district's offer to speak with the Board of Directors regarding their concerns and will continue with the current instruction models. The union had accused the district of not consistently deep cleaning classrooms and altering the social distancing requirement of six-feet from the CDC. They also accused the district of questionable practices when it comes to reporting COVID-19 cases and contact tracing.
Pennsylvanians who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are going to have some more time to enroll for health insurance. State officials say a special enrollment period is going to be launched to help people get coverage through Pennie, the state's health insurance marketplace. The enrollment period is scheduled to be held from February 15th through May 15th. Those without insurance are encouraged to visit Pennie's website to view their available options.
Most of New Jersey's restaurants no longer have a curfew. Starting today, restaurants can start seating patrons at 35-percent capacity with no pressure to close their doors at 10pm, but bar seating service will still be banned. Businesses like hair salons, barbershops and byms also fall under the order. Meantime, houses of worship, weddings and funerals will now be allowed to have up to 150 people.
A third man is now charged with the April 2018 murder of 18-year-old Tyrell Holmes outside the Parkhurst Apartments in Bethlehem. "This is a homicide involving torture," says Northampton County DA Terry Houck. He says Alkiohn Dunkins is among the three men who stabbed Holmes and then set him on fire while he was still alive. Dunkins and the two other suspects are allegedly members of the Money Rules Everything gang. Houck says Holmes was killed by the group because of a robbery that Holmes botched. Houck says his office plans to pursue the death penalty in the case. Dunkins had already been in jail for allegedly robbing a fellow Moravian College student at gunpoint.
Snow that forecasted at the beginning of the week for Sunday but then taken out of the forecast is now back in. Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg says it won't be anything remotely close to what we saw last Sunday into Tuesday. "It will come and go very quickly on Sunday. In fact, by Sunday evening it's over with. That's how fast the thing is going to move," Lundberg says. While it may be a fast-moving storm, Lundberg says it will still leave behind one-to-three inches of snow Sunday morning.
State regulators have signed off on a settlement of $1 million with Met-Ed. The Public Utility Commission had been seeking a $4.5 million civil penalty against Met-Ed for the July 2016 death of Thomas Poynton Jr., who was electrocuted after a high-voltage conductor fell into his backyard abot 70 feet from his home. He was electrocuted after walking outside his home. The PUC claimed Met-Ed jeopardized the public by failing to maintain its transmission lines and identifying broken equipment.
The South Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners rejected Abraham Atiyeh's proposal for a senior living facility Wednesday because the developer did not present a traffic study. Atiyeh asked for a 30-day delay to present traffic data for the proposed 54-unit memory-care facility, but was denied the extension. Atiyeh planned to build on land south of Route 78 and just north of the border with Lower Macungie.
A three-alarm fire early Thursday morning was quickly contained and didn’t damage much of a building on East Meadow Street in Allentown. The call came in just before 3:30am and the fire was controlled within 45 minutes and contained to a relatively small area. No one was hurt and a cause has yet to be determined.
The investigation continues into a fire that began in an attached garage and spread into a house Wednesday afternoon on East Burger Street in Emmaus. It took about 30 minutes to get the fire under control. No one was hurt and the two homeowners were able to escape the flames.
Benjamin Crump is the attorney representing the family of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died while in Minneapolis police custody last May. He's now also at attorney for the family of 19-year-old Christian Hall, who was shot to death by Pennsylvania State Police in December. "He was having a crisis. There is a suggestion that he was contemplating suicide. He was crying out for help. Christian Hall needed a helping hand but yet, he got bullets while he had his hands up," Crump says. Hall was killed after police responded to a call for a distraught man with a gun on the overpass to I-80 in Hamilton Township. Police say Hall became uncooperative and pointed a gun in their direction and that's when he was shot. The Hall family wants Attorney General Josh Shapiro to take over the investigating. Shapiro's office say they can't unless asked to by the Monroe County DA's office.
There's a new casino in southeast Pennsylvania. Live! Casino and Hotel opened Thursday in South Philadelphia. The casino offers more than 100 live table games and 2000 slot machines.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has reportedly moved closer to running for the U.S. Senate in 2022. Fetterman, a Democrat, reportedly filed paperwork to do so Thursday. Sen. Pat Toomey announced last year he would not be seeking reelection when his term ends in January 2023.
The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is upset with Gov. Tom Wolf's 2021-2022 proposed budget. Officials say it would result in the end of horse racing in the state as the plan would cut nearly $200 million from the Horse Racing Development Fund. However, the money that would normally go to that fund will instead be allocated to a program that would provide financial assistance for students enrolled in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The coalition is still upset about it, claiming the loss of funding will cost thousands of jobs.
A family of a young cancer patient is beyond grateful after receiving a generous gift from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. He gave the family of a seven-year-old boy a check for $30,000. Hurts also went to visit the boy at his house and then presented the check. The boy's family will use the money for a new home.