The Monroe County First Assistant DA says a breakup with his girlfriend led Christian Hall to call 911 to report a possibly suicidal person standing on the Route 33 overpass at I-80. Michael Mancuso says what happened over the next 90 minutes shows Hall wanted to commit suicide by cop. Mancuso says the video shows police trying to help Hall and repeatedly asking him to drop his gun, which looked like a semi-automatic but was really a BB gun. Investigators say the entire incident was a classic suicide-by-cop scenario and cleared police of any wrongdoing.
COVID-19 cases are trending in the wrong direction this week. State health officials Tuesday reported 5032 new cases of coronavirus, pushing the overall total since the pandemic began to 1,020,300. Another 34 new coronavirus-related deaths were also reported Tuesday, leaving Pennsylvania's overall count at 25,049. There are currently 1916 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 389 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
Pennsylvania is about 75-percent finished with vaccinating individuals in Phase 1A against COVID-19. It comes as the state reached the milestone of having distributed more than five-million doses of the vaccine. Gov. Tom Wolf says they're on track to get everyone in Phase 1A at least scheduled for a vaccine appointment by the end of this month, which is today. Officials then plan on reviewing vaccine eligibility for the next phase of the distribution plan, which will include more essential workers.
Pocono Raceway and Lehigh Valley Health Network will host a second mass drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic next week. It's scheduled for one week from today from 8am to 4pm. About 3000 first doses of the Moderna vaccine will be administered at the next clinic. Those who are interested in receiving the vaccination are encouraged to pre-register at www.mylvhn.org or by calling 1-833-584-6283.
Officials in Carbon County aren't happy with the state health department's new vaccine plan, which includes eliminating St. Luke's Lehighton Campus as a COVID-19 vaccination site. County officials sent a letter to acting Health Secretary Allison Beam asking her to reconsider the decision, which came as part of the state's new policy of streamlining vaccination locations. The change leaves the Mauch Chunk Pharmacy in Jim Thorpe and a couple of Rite Aids as the only Carbon County vaccination sites.
Pennsylvania's departments of Health and Education both agree a little less elbow room for school students is OK. "The commonwealth, aligning with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that students must be at least three feet in classes, instead of the six feet it was previously," says Pennsylvania COVID-19 Response Director Wendy Braund. That new directive applies in all 67 counties in elementary schools. In middle and high schools the new distancing measures should only be implemented in counties with low or moderate community transmission. Six feet of social distancing is still the rule of thumb when masks can't be worn, between adults and students and in common areas like lobbies and auditoriums.
The days of not being able to visit loved ones in Pennsylvania nursing homes may be coming to an end. Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam says nursing homes should implement recommendations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and allow in-person visits. "Resuming visitations, while being extremely cautious and following mitigation and safety recommendations, will finally provide much-needed relief and hope for Pennsylvanians living in nursing homes as well as their loved ones," Bream says. Those recommendations go out the window under certain circumstances, including if an unvaccinated nursing home resident is in a facility in a county with a positivity rate of more than 10-percent and fewer than 70-percent of nursing home residents are fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 restrictions for restaurants and bars are being loosened April 4th, but owners are having trouble finding staff. Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association officials say this is due to enhanced unemployment benefits, employees unable to get vaccinations and many have chosen to leave the industry entirely. Meanwhile, the state is still in Phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and officials hope restaurant workers can be moved into Phase 1B instead of C to help businesses hire more people.
New Jersey is planning to have more immediate statistics regarding bias crimes. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says the state will now be releasing data pertaining to hate crimes and bias incidents on a monthly basis, adding it will improve law enforcement's response to these crimes. Grewal explains the state has been putting out numbers from 2020, but says those statistics are no longer relevant. He added the country has a hate problem and the Garden State isn't immune to it.