Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported a two-day total of 3302 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the state's overall total to 961,456. During that same two-day period, 14 new coronavirus-related deaths were reported, leaving the commonwealth with 24,587 since the pandemic began just over a year ago. 5.7-percent of all COVID-19 tests in the seven day period ending March 11th came back positive.
Effective April 4th, Gov. Tom Wolf is lifting some restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses as well as increasing crowd size limits. On April 4th, restaurants will be allowed to resume bar service and purchasing food with drinks will no longer be required. The curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will be lifted and indoor dining capacity will be bumped up to 75-percent for self-certifying restaurants and 50-percent that don't self-certify. Capacity for gyms, casinos, theatres and malls will be increased to 75-percent on that date as well. Wolf also says maximum occupancy limits for indoor events and outdoor events will be increased to 25-percent and 50-percent of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size.
Governor Tom Wolf toured the Berks County Intermediate Unit's COVID-19 vaccination area in Muhlenberg Township Monday. That's where Berks County teachers and all school staffers are able to get the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine. To date 52,778 doses of the vaccine have been administered to school employees.
An investigation is underway to look into how the Wolf Administration handled nursing homes during the early stages of the pandemic. More than 12,000 people in nursing homes have died from complications caused by COVID-19 and officials like House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff believe the data on these deaths is incomplete. Benninghoff says families across the state have not received answers as to why and whether or not government orders contributed to the spread of the virus at these facilities.
East Stroudsburg University is preparing to fully reopen its campus for the 2021 fall semester. The plans include having most classes be in-person with social-distancing and mask-wearing guidelines still in place. Hybrid learning options will still be made available for students.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the state's largest gun show promoter are agreeing to ban the sales of so-called 'ghost gun' kits. Shapiro says the decision by Eagle Arms in Upper Macungie Township is unprecedented. "That is the first time we are aware of in this nation that a gun show operator has partnered with law enforcement to stop the sale of these 80-percent receiver kits," the attorney general says. Shapiro says these ghost guns are becoming the weapon of choice for criminals because they are often sold without background checks, can be easily assembled and are virtually untraceable.
Northampton County DA Terry Houck says it appears a dispute between Moore Township neighbors has left one dead and the other in the hospital. Houck says they haven't arrested the hospitalized individual. "With that being said, we're not looking for anybody else at this point in time," Houck says. The incident happened Monday morning on Moser Street. When police arrived at the scene, one man was dead. The identities of the individuals involved have not yet been released.
The man suspected of entering a home with a knife near Lafayette College earlier this month is under arrest. 34-year-old Clement Swaby is charged with the robbery and attempted sexual assault at an apartment in the 400 block of McCartney Street near Lafayette on March 5th. On February 22, a man armed with a knife robbed a home in the same block. In that incident, a victim was awakened by the intruder and sustained minor scratches, but authorities aren't saying whether Swaby was involved with that incident.
A popular bowling center will tear down before it rebuilds. A month-and-a-half after more than two feet of snow collapsed part of its roof, the start of demolishing Hampton Lanes in Northampton began Monday. Tearing it down is expected to take a little more than a week. Owners of Hampton Lanes plan to rebuild and hope to reopen as soon as this fall.
The Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal's Office is currently investigating the cause of a deadly house fire in Carbon County. It happened Monday afternoon at a home on West Bertsch Street in Lansford. A family was inside the residence at the time and while a mother and three children were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, the father died after being last seen trying to rescue the children.
Pennsylvania's legislative session is underway. The top priorities for the House and Senate are expected to be economic recovery and pandemic-related legislation. The session began Monday.
A State College man is suspected of being involved in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The FBI says Julian Khater and a West Virginia man are charged with spraying Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick in the face with some sort of chemical in a canister while other rioters were breaching the Capitol building. Sicknick was maced later in the day, suffered a stroke and later died, however his official cause of death has not yet been determined.
President Biden is coming to Pennsylvania today and his vice-president is heading west. President Biden will be visiting a small business in Delaware County to highlight how the American Rescue Plan helps those small businesses.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is naming his newest nominee to the state Supreme Court. Murphy has picked 40-year-old Rachel Wainer Apter to replace outgoing justice Jaynee LeVecchia. Apter was a former clerk to the late U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.