The Pennsylvania Department of Health Thursday added 186 new cases of COVID-19 to the state's overall total, which now stands at 1,212,257. Nine new deaths attributed to coronavirus were also reported. Pennsylvania's current total is now 27,687. Right now, 313 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 59 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
Pennsylvania's acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson has thanked everyone who's already been vaccinated against COVID in the commonwealth. "Because of that you are significantly less likely to be hospitalized and that in turn ensures that our health care facilities are able to provide care for those acute conditions like heart attack and stroke," Johnson says. Johnson's encouraging everyone else to get vaccinated and for those who've already received one shot of the Moderna or Pfizer shots to make sure they get their second dose.
For the fifth straight year, property taxes are going up in the Allentown School District. The Allentown School Board has approved a $375 million budget that increases property taxes by three-percent, which means the owner of a property assessed at $100,000 will pay an additional $63 this year. The vote was 6-3 in favor of the tax increase.
Charges against a veteran Phillipsburg police officer accused of sexual misconduct have been dismissed. The Warren County prosecutor's office has dropped charges against 50-year-old William Lance. A 22-year-old woman had claimed in August 2019, Lance called her over to his patrol car. When she looked into the driver's side window, Lance exposed himself and grabbed the woman's arm and put her hand on his genitals. Now those charges have been dropped. In a statement, Lance's attorney says, "This dismissal did not come as the result of legal maneuvers or a technicality. The truth was uncovered, and, to the credit of the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, the charges against Officer Lance were dismissed."
Forks Township has 14 new defibrillators. The defibrillators will be placed in township police vehicles and other areas throughout the township. They were donated by the Greg Moyer AED Fund and St. Luke's Hospital.
About 70 members of Pennsylvania Task Force One are on their way to help with search and rescue efforts in Surfside, Florida. The task force is one of 28 in the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System that can be deployed by FEMA during major disasters. The group was called to the Twin Towers following the attacks on 9-11, but this time they're helping at the site of the collapsed condominium in Florida. 18 people have been confirmed dead, and around 145 people are still unaccounted for.
The Wolf administration is urging Pennsylvanians to be careful this holiday weekend. Officials say they will be working closely with law enforcement to reduce impaired driving on the road and in the water as driving and boating under the influence puts everyone at risk. Officials also urge those who plan on lighting fireworks to handle them safely, keep away from children and keep a bucket of water or garden hose ready in case of a fire.
Harry Potter: The Exhibit is coming to Philadelphia. The tour will debut next year at the Franklin Institute. The company says it'll celebrate the stories of 'Harry Potter,' 'Fantastic Beasts,' as well as 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' and guests will get to see authentic props and costumes. Officials have not released information on tour dates or tickets just yet.
Officials with Six Flags Great Adventure say they've had to shut down the El Toro roller coaster while they investigate the partial derailment of the wooden ride. The roller coaster was shut down late Tuesday afternoon. The state Department of Community Affairs says the roller coaster has been placed under engineering review. The state had an inspector on-site yesterday but he was unable to immediately identify a cause of the derailment. Nobody was hurt in the derailment.
New Jersey's allocating funds to support child care providers still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation allocating $100 million from the American Rescue Plan to find grants for facilities improvements, support workforce development, and other initiatives. Murphy says the pandemic has shown the inequalities created by the lack of access to affordable childcare for working families.