Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health added 5058 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,458,445 since the pandemic began. 111 new virus-related deaths were also reported, leaving the state's overall count at 29,722. Right now, 2891 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 675 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
Last month when Gov. Tom Wolf forced Pennsylvania school students to mask up, he said he'd reevaluate the order in early October. It's now early October and the governor now says that probably won't happen at all this month. "I said that because the betting was that 12-and-under would be approved for emergency use with the vaccine. I'm not sure that's going to happen in October. We're hearing early November," Wolf says. Wolf thinks the key is not so much the date as when the vaccine becomes available to all school children and how fast we can get them vaccinated.
A study from QuoteWizard is ranking Pennsylvania 3rd in the nation when it comes to not trusting the government over child COVID-19 vaccines. According to the study, about 56-percent of Pennsylvanians don't trust the government. Over 61-percent are worried about the side effects of the vaccine, and that is the by far the main reason why parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children. The only states that distrust the government more than Pennsylvania are New Jersey and Iowa.
Staffing shortages at long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania are said to be growing at an alarming rate. Some providers have been forced to limit or halt new admissions. Zach Shamberg, who heads up the the Pennsylvania Health Care Association says about 40-percent of their members will not be able to afford to provide care for more than another year. "Here in Harrisburg, we need innovative legislative solutions. We need an investment from the state's Medicaid program so that we can then invest in our staff and the care that we provide. And at the end of the day, as it relates to vaccine mandates, there need to be alternatives, like testing," Shamberg says.
State police are investigating an deadly overnight crash in Northampton County. It happened on Route 33 north just before the Tatamy exit around 2 o'clock this morning. It's not yet clear how many vehicles or how many people were involved, but we're being told the coroner was called to the scene of the accident.
It looks like Easton won't be getting a new grocery store after all. Developers of a six-story mixed-use building to be located on the site of the old Days Inn on South Third Street, have presented updated plans for the $80 million project and those plans no longer include what had been described as a major grocery store chain. Those developers say those plans were scrapped because of a lack of interest and because the project is within a flood plain. The latest plans call for a six-story building housing 259 residential units, 45 of which will be one-to-three-bedroom owner-occupied condominiums. The remaining 214 units will be one- and two-bedroom rental units. There will be 188 parking spots.
A Wind Gap business sold a lucky Powerball player a ticket worth $100,000 earlier this week. The ticket matched four of the five white balls drawn and the red Powerball number for the October 4th drawing to win $100,000 for the player. Kavi Tobacco on East Moorestown Road earns a $500 bonus for selling the winner.
A Bucks County home has been seriously damaged by an early Wednesday morning fire. Firefighters were called to a home on Woodbridge Court in East Rockhill Township, near Perkasie around 4 o'clock Wednesday morning. Crews were able to get the fire under control in an hour. Everyone in the home made it out safely.
First Lady Jill Biden is expected to visit our area next week. The Office of the First Lady says she will be traveling to Allentown next Wednesday. No details have been released on where exactly she will be.
The state is offering nearly $2 million in grants to enhance the production and promotion of Pennsylvania-made wines and beers. Gov. Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania industries have to adopt new ways of doing business in the COVID-19 world, and these grants will provide substantial funding to help two vital parts of our agricultural community. State agencies recommended about seven beer projects totaling over $900,000 and eight wine projects totaling over $1 million to get this done.
State officials are reminding Pennsylvanians that they can vote early in-person by mail ballot for the upcoming municipal election. Officials say voting in-person by mail ballot before election day is an easy and convenient option for voters who do not want to return their ballot by mail and who cannot or do not want to go to the polls on November 2nd. Voters can visit their county election office or satellite election office to apply for a mail ballot, and officials will check their eligibility and give them a ballot once verified. Voters can then fill their ballots and cast it in one visit. The deadline to apply for a mail ballot and vote by mail in person is October 26th.
A bill that would give parents online access to a school's curriculum is advancing. St. Rep. Andrew Lewis says the bill simply brings our state into the 21st century by making sure that, especially in an environment of remote learning, parents can access the information they're entitled to online. Critics of the bill say it will drag education right into the middle of the culture wars, and it's an invitation to the book burners and anti-maskers to harass our schools and teachers. They added that parents can already ask for this information, and it would only further strain school districts. The bill passed the state house yesterday and now heads to the senate.
PennDOT this week is reminding drivers to be mindful about the potential of deer in and along the roadway. More than 5500 deer-related crashes were reported statewide last year. Officials recommend allowing extra stopping distance between vehicles. They also say that drivers should be alert at all times and especially in areas where deer crossing signs are posted. PennDOT adds that it's important to stay aware while driving, particularly in the months when deer are most active.
New Jersey acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck has announced formation of a task force that will focus on investigation and prosecution of gun violence cases. The plan also involves creation of an information-sharing network that is designed to make sure the appropriate information is available to prosecutors when they need it. Bruck says insufficient sharing of information among local state and federal prosecutors whose jurisdictions overlap often leads to information gaps that leave violent criminals on the streets.