Thursday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 3333 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the overall total since the pandemic began to 1,284,532. 27 new COVID-related deaths were also reported, leaving the state's total at 28,128. Right now, 1645 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 474 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
Gov. Tom Wolf has changed his stance on mask mandates at schools. He's now calling on state lawmakers to return to Harrisburg to pass legislation to require districts to implement mask mandates. He's pointing to the recent spike in COVID cases as students are going back to school but GOP St. Rep. Seth Grove thinks the governor's hearing from school board members not willing to vote in favor of mandates. "I think he's getting pressure possibly from school districts that don't want to make that decision and want the state to make the decision on their behalf so they can say the state is making us do it, so it's not our decision, it's out of our hands," Grove says.
New Jersey has recorded another 11 more COVID-related deaths and more than 1700 new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say over the last two weeks, the delta variant has accounted for 96-percent of the cases in the Garden State.
Gov. Phil Murphy's office says all state employees will return to their offices full-time by October 18th. Murphy had said New Jersey state workers would be back in their office right after Labor Day, but he postponed the return date to give employees time to become fully vaccinated.
Both Pennsylvania senators have reacted to Thursday's suicide bombings that killed 13 American service members and nearly 100 Afghan citizens. Via Twitter, Republican Pat Toomey said, "The heinous terror attack on the airport in Kabul is as heartbreaking as it is infuriating. My prayers are with our troops, our fellow citizens, and innocent Afghans on the ground." Democrat Bob Casey said, "This is a devastating attack on Afghans and Americans trying to flee for their lives and the U.S. forces working day and night to evacuate as many people as possible. American troops are carrying out their mission despite numerous threats and challenges and we owe it to them to do everything we can to bring them home safely."
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey thinks President Biden should change his mind on getting American troops out of Afghanistan next week. He says there are too many Afghans who've helped the U.S. still stuck in Kabul. "There's a significant number of people who have been evacuated. That is certainly true. But my office has been contacted by families of mostly Afghan citizens who have been translators and otherwise have provided services to the U.S. military and many of them have not been able to get beyond the Taliban checkpoints," Toomey said. His comments were made before Thursday's bombing that killed 13 American service members.
A Bethlehem man is now charged with a second incident near Lafayette College. Clement Swaby is charged with breaking into an apartment on McCartney Street in Easton on February 22. He allegedly had a butcher knife and threatened to rape a woman there. Swaby is already behind bars on charges in a similar incident on March 5, one unit over from the apartment on McCartney Street and was also charged in May in a 2020 sex assault case near Lehigh University.
A 60-year-old woman was killed in an accident in Weisenberg Township. It happened Wednesday night around 8 o'clock when Cathy Lutterscmidt fell beneath a moving vehicle at a home on Kern Street. The Lehigh County coroner's office says Lutterschmidt died from neck injuries and the death is being ruled an accident.
Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong says his proposed 2022 budget will not raise property taxes. The budget, which comes in at roughly $500 million, will be reviewed by county commissioners next month with a final vote expected by the end of October.
State utility regulators say nearly 750,000 residential customers are facing utility shutoffs, though the number is declining. In a report from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the past-due balance for residential customers is almost $664 million. That's compared with more than $856 million reported earlier this year. There are several options customer could consider to help pay off past-due balances, including working ouit a payment plan and applying for millions of dollars in financial assistance available from other utilities.
Gov. Tom Wolf is asking federal officials to lower damage thresholds required for events such as flooding to qualify for federal aid. Recent intense thunderstorms across Pennsylvania have led to flash flooding and significant property damage. One storm in July caused major damage to homes and businesses. The damage met the criteria for help from the Small Business Administration but not enough for individual assistance from the federal government.
The Penn State Nittany Lion has shown up on a list of the 10 worst college mascots. In a survey conducted by the Illinois company Quality Logo Products, the beloved Nittany Lion (at least here) was ranked No. 6 out of the 10 worst college mascots.
The Phillies will be without their home run and RBI leader for the remainder of the season. Manager Joe Girardi says they were hoping Rhys Hoskins' injury wouldn't come to this. "The guys kind of knew what was going on and Wednesday when he tried to catch a groundball and it took him a little while to get up, all of us kind of had a little bit of fear that he'd be out for a little while and maybe for the rest of the year and that's what came," Girardi says. Hoskins will have surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.