Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health added 174 new cases of coronavirus to the statewide total, which now stands at 1,210,820. Eight new coronavirus-related deaths were also added to Pennsylvania's total, which is now at 27,612. Right now, there are 397 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 91 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
Health experts across the state are concerned about the newest variant of COVID-19. Doctors with Penn State Health say the Delta variant that originated in India is a more contagious and more transmissable variant. Data from the CDC suggests it accounts for more than 20-percent of new cases in the country and the it has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization.
The state House is advancing a bill that would ban COVID-19 vaccine requirements in state colleges, private universities and government facilities. The legislation would also remove the state Department of Health's ability to issue health orders during emergencies such as statewide mask mandates. Gov. Tom Wolf vows to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. It now heads to the state Senate.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says his state is on track to surpass its goal of vaccinating more than 4.7-million adults by the end of this month. As of Friday, more than 4.8-million New Jerseyans had been vaccinated, but that includes teens. It comes as White House officials admit they'll miss the mark of vaccinating 70-percent of American adults by the Independence Day holiday.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a former Schuylkill County high school cheerleader in what some call a win for freedom of speech. In 2017, then-14-year-old Brandi Levi was upset for not making her high school's varsity cheerleading team and made a post on Snapchat from home that read, "F school, F softball, F cheer, F everything." The Mahanoy Area School District then suspended her from cheer for a year over the post. However, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in an 8-1 vote that the school violated Levy's First Amendment rights. Legal experts say this sets a limit on a school's ability to step in for parents.
A fire that gutted a Whitehall Township home on June 14th may not have been an accident. Investigators say an accelerant was found on the scene and an arson investigation dog hit on an area inside the home in the 900 block of Pennsylvania Street, which means the fire is being investigated as a possible arson. Nobody waa injured in that fire.
An Allentown man is under arrest for a Bethlehem shooting. Roberto Vadillois facing numerous charges after shooting a 34-year-old man in the parking lot of the East Broad and Center streets 7-Eleven just before 7 o'clock Wednesday morning. Police have not yet given a motive for the shooting and the investigation into exactly what happened continues.
John Hill has been named assistant police chief in Allentown. Hill has been in the Allentown PD for almost 28 years and will now oversee the department's patrol, investigative and community outreach units.
The Bucks County coroner has ruled the pilot of a small plane that crashed last week died of smoke inhalation. 79-year-old Martin Sailer Jr. was killed in the crash near Doylestown on June 15th. The Upper Black Eddy man put in a mayday call before the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
Republican lawmakers are looking to bypass Gov. Tom Wolf's veto and let voters decide on whether or not they want ID requirements when they go to the polls. An election reform bill is already moving through the legislature that includes changes to voter ID, but through a constitutional amendment, lawmakers wouldn't need the governor's approval to put it on the ballot. The measure would also change the voting age in the state constitution from 21 to 18. It now heads to the state House for approval and the earliest Pennsylvanians may see this on the ballot could be May of 2023.
President Biden calls the latest move by Republicans "another attack on voting rights." But Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey says there were good reasons to reject the measure. "It makes it virtually illegal to require voter ID. I think it makes a lot of sense for people to have to show an ID when they go vote. But I'd leave that up to the states to decide. Most states think that's a good idea because most people think it's a good idea to have some integrity in the results of your election," Toomey says. As you might imagine, Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey has a very different take. "We have to make the case between and among ourselves to make a change to make this go forward. When they said don't even debate that, I think they were insulting and really giving the middle finger to the American people," Casey says.
Three western Pennsylvanians are in federal custody for their alleged involvement in the January 6th at the nation's Capitol. Wednesday, police arrested the three men on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to theft of government property. All three had their initial appearances in court Wednesday.
A former Philadelphia Phillies minor league slugger is pursuing a career in the National Football League. Dylan Cozens announced earlier this week his retirement from baseball. He says he now wants to fulfill his dream of playing football. Cozens hit 136 homers in the minor leagues, including 54 with the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, but only managed to play in 27 games in the big leagues.