Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health added 7652 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,269,555. 17 new COVID-related deaths were also reported over the three-day reporting period. That moves Pennsylvania's death count to 28,076 since the pandemic began. Right now, 1463 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 391 of whom are in the intensive care unit. For the seven days ending August 19th, statewide percent positivity stood at 6.9-percent.
Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson says there's more concern about younger people dealing with COVID-19 than there was a year ago. "Early on vaccinations were available to those 65 and older. In the beginning we looked at that group as being more vulnerable and saw more hospitalizations and deaths in that group. But because that group is much more vaccinated, now the illnesses and even deaths have shifted to a younger population," Johnson says.
Gov. Tom Wolf says the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine proves it's safe, and he hopes it encourages people to get the shot. He hopes anyone who was hesitant about the vaccine because it had been initially approved under an emergency order now feels confident enough to take it for themselves and their loved ones. Officials with Moderna believe full approval of their vaccine will come soon.
Local Catholic school students will need to wear masks for the school year. The Diocese of Allentown issued the mandate for its five-county area schools. They say masks are the best way to keep students safe, especially with COVID-19 vaccines not yet available for anyone younger than 12.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is enacting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all school personnel ahead of the coming school year. He says the order applies to all preschool-through-12 teachers and staff. "As we move forward over the coming weeks to implement this order, we expect that district leaders will work directly and collaboratively with local union leadership," Murphy says. Anyone who chooses not to get the shot must submit to twice-weekly testing. The order takes effect October 18th.
While the Lehigh Valley saw only relatively minor flooding thanks to Tropical Depression Henri, Monroe County had serious problems. Hundreds of residents were evacuated in Stroudsburg, with a temporary shelter established at East Stroudsburg University. Sunday and Monday rainfall totaled 2.93 inches at Lehigh Valley International Airport. Several areas picked up more than five inches and in some cases six inches of rain.
The Lehigh Valley may be getting more warehouses. Today, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission will review the proposal to turn the Dutch Springs aqua park into two warehouses. The commission's comprehensive planning committee will meet at noon to discuss the issue and then the full commission will review the proposal Thursday night at 7 o'clock. Both meetings will be virtual. Meanwhile, Moore Township's Planning Commission has accepted the development plan for two warehouses at the site of Southmoore Golf Course. Officials say that doesn't necessarily mean the township approves of placing two warehouses on the west side of Route 512, however the land is zoned for industry and the developer does have an agreement to buy the land.
Parents of students in the Freedom High School Band and Orchestra are upset that a planned trip to Hawaii to perform for the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor has been canceled by the Bethlehem Area School District. The trip, which had been planned for two years and was scheduled for December, was canceled on August 16th after the area COVID-19 positivity rate rose above 10-percent, pushing the district into Tier 3 status under which field trips are prohibited. During Monday night's Bethlehem Area Board of School Directors meeting, many parents said they were not only upset over the trip being canceled, but they could also collectively be out of more than $100,000 in nonrefundable deposit money. They say the deadline to cancel the trip was in May.
If Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg is right, the Lehigh Valley could be getting a late August heat wave. "It will be hot. We're going to be up near 90 degrees today and tomorrow and again on Thursday," Lundberg says. He says temperatures will probably fall just shy of 90 degrees on Friday.
Allentown's mayor wants the city's interim police chief to officially take the job. Mayor Ray O'Connell is nominating Charles Roca to be the chief of the Allentown Police Department. Roca has been serving as interim chief since June 16, after previous Chief Glenn Granitz resigned to become police chief in West Reading. His nomination will now go before city council, which has not yet set a date for the hearing.
Members of Pennsylvania Task Force One have traveled to Connecticut to help with the cleanup from Tropical Storm Henri. Gov. Tom Wolf says 16 members of the state task force are helping with any water rescues that need to be made in Henri's aftermath.
A Warren County, New Jersey man has died nearly a week after an accident at his Oxford Township home. 79-year-old Donald Deitman died Sunday afternoon at St. Luke's Hospital from injuries he sustained when the lawn tractor he was riding rolled down an embankment on August 16.
The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire opened over the weekend after a year off because of COVID. The faire's CEO, Scott Bowser, says attracting crowds won't be difficult, but he says attracting staff has been an issue. "Hiring challenges were in the seasonal staff which would be maintenance workers to parking lot crew to food and beverage employees. We're still actively hiring, as everybody else is, but we have enough to open," Bowser says. The fair runs through October 31.