Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health added 1127 new cases of coronavirus to its overall total, which now stands at 1,198,595. 38 new deaths identified as COVID-related were also reported Wednesday. That total has now grown to 27,123. Meanwhile, the CDC says Pennsylvania has administered first doses of vaccine to 57-percent of its entire population and more than 52-percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are now considered fully vaccinated.
Gov. Tom Wolf is once again telling lawmakers that he is not changing the date to lift all COVID-19 restrictions. The governor announced earlier this month all restrictions, except mask wearing, will be lifted on Memorial Day. Lawmakers have been urging the governor to lift restrictions earlier so businesses can take advantage of the holiday weekend. Wolf says the bipartisan COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force signed off on ending restrictions that day and he's comfortable with that decision.
Another welcome sign the summer of 2021 will have a more normal feel to it: Musikfest will return. The Bethlehem summer tradition returns August 6th-15th with plenty of free and ticketed shows, food, drink all making a comeback after a one-year live hiatus due to the pandemic. Among the headliners on the Wind Creek Steelstage are Darius Rucker, Phillip Phillips and the Colin Hay Band.
The pandemic is prompting a local county to consider creating a health department. The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners has approved creating a task force to determine whether a county public health bureau is needed. The task force must provide an update to the board in September and issue a final report no later than November 30. The task force will be comprised of three commissioners who will be nominated by the chair and then approved by the board.
New Jersey may be removing its indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated people tomorrow, but kids will still be expected to keep them on. Summer camps and summer school programs will have to ensure children are masked even if they're outdoors. New Jersey Health Department medical advisor Dr. Eddy Bresnitz said the issue of outdoor activity for children in a camp setting is not an easy one to ask. As the current rule stands, campers will only be allowed to unmask for eating, swimming or excessive heat.
New Jersey businesses will soon be allowed to let their employees go without a mask in the office. That is if they'v been vaccinated. The same won't go for state employees, who will still need to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status. Gov. Phil Murphy issued another order Wednesday, retracting the measure that required employers to allow their employees to work remote. These orders are set to go into effect on June 4th.
State police are asking for your help in identifying two people found dead in Carbon County under what appear to be suspicious circumstances. Two bodies were found Saturday evening in a wooded area off of Eckley Road. The man and woman, believed to be of Asian descent and in their middle ages, died elsewhere, and the wooded location appears to be a dumping area for the bodies, state police say. The Carbon County coroner had said the bodies were significantly decomposed when they were found, and the victims may have been dead for weeks.
The Northeast Extension was closed in both directions between the Quakertown and Lehigh Valley exits for almost the entire morning drive because of a serious overnight accident that involved a tractor trailer hitting and breaking through a concrete median.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier will have to serve jail time for his involvement in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case. After exhausting the state and federal appeal process, Spainer appeared in court in Harrisburg today to determine how he will serve his sentence. His defense team was pushing for two months home confinement instead of jail time. Instead, Judge John Boccabella ruled against that appeal, ordering Spanier serve two months in Centre County jail on his endangering the welfare of children conviction.
The Harrisburg woman accused of breaking into the U.S. Capitol and stealing Nancy Pelosi's computer has been granted release from home detention. Riley Williams has been given permission to leave her home between 7am and 8pm. Williams requested the release from home detention in hopes of finding a job to pay for her bills.
A Delaware County man allegedly tried to outrun a traffic stop at speeds of more than 130 mph before ramming a state police vehicle and injuring a trooper. Mohamed Diallo faces numerous charges in connection with the chase Monday night on I-78 in Lehigh County. A Pennsylvania State Police trooper patrolling Interstate 78 first spotted Diallo’s vehicle driving more than 80 mph in a construction zone, following other vehicles too closely and weaving in and out of traffic in a careless manner. The trooper reportedly tried to conduct a traffic stop in Weisenberg Township, which is when Diallo allegedly sped away at more than 130 mph, passing traffic on the right shoulder. Other state troopers joined the chase, and Diallo’s vehicle allegedly rear-ended a police car as he tried to pass the vehicle. Authorities said Diallo rammed the police car from behind before other troopers managed to force his car to a stop. Another state police vehicle was damaged as troopers tried to box in Diallo’s car. He was then finally taken into custody without incident. The trooper whose vehicle was rammed from behind suffered injuries to his right shoulder and lower back.
Thousands of people in Lehigh County were without power Wednesday morning. A power outage was reported for a large portion of Whitehall Township shortly after 6am. A transformer fire and downed power lines were reported. The Whitehall-Coplay School District was also without power and teachers were told to teach remotely from home Wednesday.
Gov. Tom Wolf is urging lawmakers to raise the state's minimum wage. The governor proposes that lawmakers increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour on July 1st and that it increases every year until it reaches $15 an hour by 2027. The minimum wage is currently $7.25.
Lawmakers are upset with the Inspector General's report regarding the failure to advertise a constitutional amendment that would've allowed child sex abuse survivors to sue their abusers. Under the state constitution, these amendments must be advertised in newspapers across the state. Had this not been the case, the proposal could have made it on the ballot in the state's recent primary election. The report says this failure was not intentional and instead was caused by systemic failures within the Department of State. Some lawmakers say the investigation doesn't go far enough and are looking to probe the incident.
At a PennDOT telephone town hall, most questions were about the proposal to put tolls on nine bridges across the commonwealth that are in need of repair. The head of the agency told one caller they have limited options for funding those needed fixes. "Over the next ten years this highway and bridge funding gap is projected to grow to $12.6 billion if we do not identify funding mechanisms," says Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian. She says three-quarters of their revenue comes from federal and state gas taxes, which she says won’t be sustainable as cars become more fuel-efficient.
New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection is helping counties keep their communities clean. Wednesday, acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced several counties and municipalities have been granted a total of $20.7 million to carry out that mission.
After a tight win over the Wizards in game one of their playoff series, the 76ers blew out Washington Wednesday night 120-95. Head coach Doc Rivers likes the way his team played last night. "Overall they played with great spirit. They really did. I love how they're sharing the ball and I love their pace, but we have to keep playing at that pace," Rivers says. Game three is in Washington Saturday night.