You could begin seeing a slow down in deliveries as the postal service implements changes in the handling of first class mail beginning today. The previous standard of three-day delivery for first class mail in the U.S. is now a five-day standard for many Americans, that will mean a longer delivery process for items like bills, checks, cards and letters to get from sender to recipient. The move is part of a plan put in place by the postmaster general to cut costs within the USPS..
The Pennsylvania Department of Health added 4892 new cases of COVID-19 to the state's overall case count, which is now at 1,429,940. 77 new virus-related deaths were also reported, leaving the state with 29,400 since the pandemic began. There are 2795 people currently hospitalized with the virus, 694 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
PennDOT's Kurt Myers says there are just not enough school bus drivers to go around these days. "Throughout the commonwealth, we currently have a little over 42,000 school bus drivers, which is the lowest number of licensed CDL school bus drivers the commonwealth has had in the past five years," Myers says. He says they plan on reaching out to the more than 300,000 drivers in the state with a commercial driver's license to inform them about the need for bus drivers and how to become one. PennDOT will expand its days of operation in mid-October to allow for more CDL skills testing appointments at 23 locations.
Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam says the school mask mandate that took effect September 7th will remain in place until further notice. While masks are still a must in schools, will vaccinations follow? "At this time, there is not a contemplation of requiring the vaccination within our educator population. We're really focusing on having people have access to it, not mandate it at this point," Beam says. She says only about 400 of the state's 2000 public and private schools have used a free, optional virus testing program since it was announced in mid-August.
Officials at Tower Health are giving their employees in Berks County and surrounding counties more time to be vaccinated. The health system announced Thursday that employees who work outside of Philadelphia now have until January 17th to get their shots. Those employees who work in Philadelphia have until October 15th because of a city mandate.
If your weekend plans are taking you to the Delaware Water Gap area, you may want to budget in some extra travel time. I-80 westbound will be down to one lane in the area of the toll bridge, at the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. That starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, and lasts until 2 p.m. on Monday. Crews will be doing some work on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge and that's expected to cause big backups on Saturday and Sunday. Drivers are advised to be prepared for delays of up to an hour.
A man is dead after a crash in the Poconos. The accident happened last weekend along Route 33 South near Stroudsburg. Christopher Snyder died yesterday. Police say Snyder lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a tree.
Some state lawmakers are criticizing a proposal from PennDOT to toll nine bridges in the state. Funds generated from the tolls would go to maintaining and repairing those bridges and it would allow for PennDOT to expand its current funding to use for other maintenance and repair projects. Some Democrat state lawmakers say project after project in county after county will not get done if the proposal isn't passed. Some Republican lawmakers say the people that voted for them do not support the proposal and people are going to lose jobs and revenue.
Gov. Tom Wolf has signed three bills that will protect public health measures. One of the measures is known as Shawn's Law, and it will enhance sentences for aiding or causing suicide when the victim is under 18 years of age or has an intellectual disability. Another measure extends certain suspensions of regulations that were issued during the COVID-19 disaster declaration. The third bill allows more personnel to access information through the state prescription drug monitoring program.
State agriculture officials say the severe weather this summer, including Hurricane Ida, is to blame for a pest that can damage crops as well as lawns. Officials say the armyworm is making inroads in central Pennsylvania and the Susquehanna Valley. They're considered a southern pest, but summer storms carried them north. But because they're a warm weather species, they won't survive past the first frost.
Plastic bags are one step closer to becoming a thing of the past in Philadelphia. Starting today, stores may no longer give customers single-use plastic bags or non-recyclable paper bags. Businesses will be given a warning if they are caught in the wrong between now and April. Come next spring, there will be a fine of $75 for each violation. Wawa plans to help customers with the transition today by giving out 1000 free reusable bags at each location across the city.
The Notre Dame football team will not play at Tamaqua on Friday night. There are COVID-related quarantines in the Crusaders football program. The team expects to resume practice early next week.
The Phillies were officially eliminated last night when they lost to Atlanta 5-3. The Braves win the division again and the Phillies will watch the playoffs again. Manager Joe Girardi is disappointed. "There were some improvements here and improvements there, but the bottom line is we didn't get it done. To me that's the only reason to put this uniform on. To compete and to win," Girardi says. The Phillies' playoff drought of ten years is the second-longest in Major League Baseball.
A former Eagles star will hang up his cleats today after spending 12 seasons in the NFL. LeSean McCoy has decided to sign a one-day contract with the squad to retire as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. The shifty runner was drafted in the second-round of the 2009 NFL draft and rushed for more than 6500 yards in Philadelphia, which qualifies him for the team's all-time leading rusher.