The Pennsylvania Department of Health Wednesday confirmed 2786 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 920,634. 76 new coronavirus-related deaths were also reported, leaving the commonwealth's total at 23,787 since the pandemic's beginning. Right now, there are 1963 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 418 of whom are in the intensive care unit. The state also says it has now eclipsed 2-million vaccinations to date.
St. Luke's University Health Network is giving eligible local educators priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine. St. Luke's is setting aside weekly vaccine appointments to 78 schools in the region. To qualify, those school employees must be 65 or older or somebody with a high-risk condition.
Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture says between February 15th and 21st, it ordered four Pennsylvania restaurants to close for violating the state's COVID-19 policies. Two of the restaurants are in Lancaster County, one is in Dauphin County and the fourth is in Schuylkill County.
The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a bill that would allow the National Guard to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines. St. Sen. Kristin Phillips says our neighboring states are further along in the vaccination of their eligible population and lawmakers are frustrated with the Wolf administration's rollout of the vaccine.
A new financial report indicates without a local tax increase or state subsidies, the Allentown School District could be staring at a $55 million deficit in five years. The biggest budget buster appears to be charter schools. Today's Morning Call reports by 2025-2026, the district will be spending $86 million on charter school tuition, up by roughly $28 million from this year's cost. The cost of charter schools is soaring because enrollment in them is doing likewise. Charter school enrollment now stands at almost 4800 students and is expected to grow by more than 17-percent a year by 2025-2026. The report only came up with one scenario that eliminated the deficit: Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal for $1.5 billion in the basic education subsidy.
A Monroe County man is facing charges for allegedly shooting and killing another man Tuesda evening after a dispute at an apartment complex in Pocono Township. Police say they were dispatched to the Swiftwater Luxury Apartments around 6 o'clock Tuesday evening for reports of a dispute between two men that ended in gunfire. When officers arrived, they found Prince Brown suffering from two gunshot wounds to the back. He later died at a nearby hospital. Jamaine Wilkins was arrested later and charged with the killing.
Two state senators are pushing new legislation to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia Democrat Sharif Street says if Pennsylvania doesn't, it will be losing tax dollars to New Jersey, which just legalized pot earlier this week. "When our neighboring states are moving forward with recreational adult-use cannibis legalization not doing it would be unfortunate and it would be a lost opportunity," Street says. Erie Republican Dan Laughlin is teaming with Street on the legislation. Laughlin is the first Republican lawmaker to co-sponsor a marijuana legalization bill in the commonwealth.
New Jersey is launching two new grant programs aimed at protecting the state's colleges and universities amid the pandemic. Gov. Phil Murphy says both programs are funded by coronavirus-relief spending, through the Office of Higher Learning. "Using just under $30 million in COVID response funds to ensure the goals of our overall state plan for higher education are not underminded by the pandemic," Murphy says. One such program aims to fund areas impacting what Gov. Phil Murphy refers to as degree completion, which includes things like exposing students to college life at an earlier age and making school more affordable.
New Jersey is naming members of the state's Council of the Green Economy. Gov. Phil Murphy says First Lady Tammy Murphy will be the honorary chairperson while Jane Cohen will serve as the executive director. The council will be overseen by the Office of Climate Action and Green Economy, with the goal of developing a blueprint to expand the green economy and support Murphy's clean energy and climate goals.
It appears Ben Roethlisberger is coming back for his 18th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two sides are still talking about Roethlisberger's contract, but is seems as though things are trending in favor of the quarterback's return to Pittsburgh.