Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 2975 new cases of coronavirus in the state, bringing the commonwealth's overall total to 953,136. 40 new deaths attributed to coronavirus were also reported, leaving Pennsylvania with 24,396 since the pandemic began. Currently there are 1502 people hospitalized due to COVID-19. 303 of them are in the intensive care unit.
New Jersey is reporting more than 3400 additional cases of COVID-19. Gov. Phil Murphy, in a series of tweets, encouraged residents to continue following social distance guidelines and to "keep hope alive."
Lehigh Valley Health Network is holding another drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic Thursday at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom. LVHN hopes to immunize nearly 3600 people at the clinic, which will run from 8am to 4pm for those in the state's phase 1A. That group includes health care workers, people in long-term facilities, people 65 and older and those age 16-to-64 with high-risk conditions. Appointments can be scheduled at www.mylvhn.org or by calling 1-833-584-6283.
State lawmakers are proposing legislation that would require the state to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses to counties by population. St. Rep. Wendi Thomas says there have been disparities in the amount of vaccines being distributed across the state. She emphasized that the state should handle distribution like the federal government and allocate doses based on population.
Pennsylvania is expected to get about $13 billion from the COVID-19 relief bill. The Independent Fiscal Office says about $7.5 billion will go to the state government and another $5.5 billion will go to local governments. The money will be used for pandemic-related costs or to cover budget shortfalls.
More local schools are moving more kids back into the classroom. The Easton Area School Board has voted unanimously in favor of approving a plan for a four-day-a-week return starting with kindergarten through grade 2. However, that won't happen until two weeks after the district has reached two consecutive weeks of moderate spread of COVID-19. The next phase will allow for students in grades 3 to 5 to return after two additional weeks of moderate spread of COVID-19. The plan for the remaining grades is to be determined. Meanwhile, the Nazareth Area School Board has voted unanimously to have children in grades 4 through 6 who are now in hybrid learning return to in-person instruction five days a week starting April 6. Students will still have the option of remaining in online classes if they prefer.
Former Lehigh County Controller Glenn Eckhart has changed his mind and will run for Lehigh County executive. Eckhart had previously said he had no intention of running and wanted to focus on his duties as chairman of the Lehigh County Republican Committee. However, with no other Republican seeking the job, Eckhart entered the race just before Tuesday's deadline. He's expected to face incumbent Democrat Phillips Armstrong this November.
LANTA is building a new paratransit facility on South 12th Street in Allentown. The new, 67,000-square-foot facility will be home for all of the LANTA's paratransit operations and will have administrative offices, dispatch, a maintenance bay, a wash bay and vehicle staging.
Payments for unemployment compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants are being delayed. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry says direct deposits and debit card payments that were scheduled for yesterday will be available today. Those scheduled for today will be made available tomorrow. There's been no indication why the delay is happening.
Several state park campsites around the Poconos region are going to be opening soon to welcome in the state's early trout season this year. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say about 34 parks in the state will be available for fishing enthusiasts who look forward to the new statewide trout opener set for April 2nd.
New Jersey is working to help homeowners stay in their homes. Gov. Phil Murphy has signed the New Jersey Foreclosure Prevention Act, creating a program to help stabilize home ownership, which will be led by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. The plan is to establish public-private partnerships with nonprofits so the state agency can take various approaches to intervene, like purchasing non-performing loans in bulk from lenders. Murphy says it's essential to combat housing insecurity during these extraordinary times.
With fans being allowed back in to watch pro sports in Pennsylvania, what's the plan for Penn State athletics? "As much as we would love to have community members, our fans from all over the state, all over the region back in State College, I do think we have to take a little bit of the long view," says Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour. She says Penn State hopes to have as many fans as possible in Beaver Stadium and other on-campus venues this fall by emphasizing mask-wearing and social distancing. She said ongoing vaccine distribution across the country should help those efforts, too. Barbour did not mention whether the annual Blue-White game will be held this spring and if it is, whether any fans will be allowed to see it in person.