Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health added 4939 new cases of COVID-19 to the state's total, which is now 1,387,872. 68 new COVID-related deaths were also reported Tuesday, leaving the state's overall total at 28,932. Right now, there are 2386 people hospitalized with COVID-19. 602 of them are in the intensive care unit.
Like St. Luke's University Health Network, Lehigh Valley Health Network is changing its COVID-19 vaccination policy. LVHN is now allowing those who contracted COVID to defer their vaccinations for up to 12 months from the date they tested positive. Once the 12 months are up, employees will be required to receive the vaccine.
Lafayette College says nearly all of its students are vaccinated against COVID-19, however even with vaccinations and masking rules in place, Lafayette students are still getting sick. Lafayette says 145 students tested positive in just the past week. Some of those students, about six-percent of the student body, have been placed in isolation.
Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Alison Beam says her department is ready for the expected approval of a COVID-19 booster shot. "While we continue to administer first and second doses, vaccine providers are well-prepared to start administering booster shots as soon as the CDC gives final approval and issues guidance later this week," Beam says. State health officials have issued an order requiring vaccine providers to offer online scheduling for booster shot appointments, walk-in appointments, and phone lines to help Pennsylvanians schedule appointments. They're also being ordered to work with agencies to get the shots to people who can't leave their homes.
New Jersey officials are preparing to distribute Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots. Gov. Phil Murphy says the state is working with existing healthcare partners and pharmacies. "We're currently working to make sure that we have the supply ready to go once the CDC and FDA gives us the final booster guidance," Murphy says.
State lawmakers are holding a public hearing tomorrow to discuss an election reform bill. The bill features recommendations from the state's special committee on election integrity and reform, which includes changes to rules on ballot drop boxes, mail-in ballot counting and poll worker training. Lawmakers say they aren't trying to solve all of the problems with this bill, but they believe there are a few basic items that everyone agrees upon.
State lawmakers are proposing legislation that would offer some protection to medical marijuana patients from being charged with DUI's. Under Pennsylvania's current zero-tolerance policy, legal medical marijuana patients could face a DUI charge for driving even if they haven't used cannabis for weeks. The bill being proposed would require proof of impairment for someone to be charged with and convicted of DUI. State police have expressed their support for the bill, saying legislation like this generally does not have a negative impact on highway safety.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is reviewing a lawsuit against a law passed two-years ago that guarantees rights for crime victims and their families. The American Civil Liberties Union argues that Marsy's Law should not go into effect because the one ballot question packed about 15 constitutional amendments, which violates the Pennsylvania constitution. The ACLU also blames the legislature for improperly drafting the ballot measure. Supporters of the law say those amendments are all linked to advance victim's rights, and the votes should be counted. Experts expect this case to take several months before a ruling comes down.
At least ten people are still in the hospital from Sunday's bus crash in Schuylkill County. That day, a bus carrying about 31 teenagers and volunteers from a Lancaster County church veered off Interstate 81, then hit a guard rail and an embankment before crashing about 50-yards into a wooded area. Three more people were released from the hospital yesterday, but about ten high school students and volunteers remain hospitalized. The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Ben Simmons and the 76ers front office are still at odds. Simmons reportedly does not have plans to report to training camp when it begins next week and has no intention to ever play again with the team. Trade rumors originally began shortly after the Sixers were ousted in the playoffs last season. No comment has been given from the 76ers regarding his future.