Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported a two-day total 3920 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 new coronavirus-related deaths in the state. Those numbers leave Pennsylvanis with 988,435 overall cases and 24,789 deaths attributed to coronavirus. Currently, there are 1554 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 320 of whom are in the intensive care unit. In the seven days ending March 18th, statewide percent positivity stood at 6.5-percent.
Pennsylvania mask policy is now falling in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's. The state Department of Health now says fully vaccinated people may now visit indoors with fully vaccinated and low-risk unvaccinated people from a single household without wearing masks or social distancing. Fully vaccinated people are still being instructed to wear a mask and practice social distancing in public or when visiting unvaccinated people who are at increased risk of COVID-19 or live with someone who is. Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam also says fully vaccinated people do not have to quarantine or get tested following a known COVID-19 exposure as long as they remain asymptomatic.
Elementary school students in the Bethlehem Area School District will return to in-person classes four days a week beginning April 12. The district's Board of Directors approved the new hybrid model for K-5 students, which expands in-person learning from two to four days a week for elementary students only. Students in the district's middle and high schools will continue to attend in-person classes two days a week.
The Pennsylvania State Capitol is again open to the public. Monday was the first day since December 10th the public could enter the building. Those visiting must still wear a mask and maintain social distancing protocols.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says his state's coronavirus numbers have gone up in the past week or so. "We are back to leading the nation in spreading this virus. There is no magic wand that we can wave to stop the spread. Only you all by the millions can stop the spread of this virus," Murphy says. The state's new cases per capita is the highest such number in the nation. Murphy says it's unlikely New Jersey won't be loosening restrictions again anytime soon.
Small businesses in New Jersey now have more time to purchase personal protective equipment at discounted rates. Gov. Phil Murphy says the application period has been extended through May 28th. Businesses and organizations with fewer than 100 employees might be eligible to receive discounts as steep as 65-percent. All New Jersey based businesses and non-profits are eligible for a 10-percent discount no matter what.
1800 to 2000 acres of Pennsylvania farmland will be used for solar arrays in six counties. "The project represents the largest government commitment to solar energy in the nation to date. It will be achieved through seven solar arrays to be built right here in Pennsylvania," says Secretary of General Services Curt Topper. He says the commitment to solar energy will produce about 50-percent of all government's electricity when they get up and running by January 1, 2023. The arrays will be built in Columbia, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and York counties.
Several people were injured when a chair fell from a ski lift at Camelback Resort in the Poconos this weekend. A witness says the ski lift suddenly came to a stop, causing one of the chairs near the exit point to fall completely off of the lift onto the ground. A man and his two children were injured and taken to the hospital. The extent of their injuries is not known.
The Allentown Diocese says Ss. Peter and Paul on Fullerton Avenue will be consolidated into St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish, also on Fullerton Avenue. The consolidation takes effect April 25th. Ss. Peter and Paul will remain open for parishioner funerals, the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul every June 29th and on the anniversary of the church's dedication. The consolidation leaves the diocese with 82 parishes spread over five counties.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is going to be giving a speech for Northampton Community College's annual Humanities Program this year. The college says Abdul-Jabbar will be the keynote speaker for the virtual event that is scheduled to take place April 8th at 7pm. The Hall of Famer will focus his speech on diversity, equity and inclusion. Tickets are available for free online, but must be reserved before attendees can view the event.
The state House has passed a bill that is intended to help school districts with substitute teacher shortages. The bill would amend a law to allow teachers with day-to-day substitute permits to work as a substitute at a school for up to 20 days for multiple instructors. It will extend the limit of employment for individuals with an inactive teaching certification working as substitutes from 90 days to 180 days and more. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
A Pennsylvania state senator is currently recovering at the hospital after he was involved in a motorcycle accident. St. Sen. Mike Regan was injured in the crash that happened Sunday morning. Authorities aren't releasing many details, but are saying Regan was wearing a helmet when the accident happened.