Over the past three days in Pennsylvania, over 55,000 new COVID-19 cases have been reported, pushing the overall total beyond 1.7 million. Since the last daily report, there have been 94 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and nearly 6000 people are hospitalized with COVID, nearing the record high set last January. The statewide positivity rate for the seven days ending December 30th was 24-and-a-half-percent.
There were a lot of empty chairs in one local school district on the first day back from Christmas break. In a message to parents, Nazareth Area School District Superintendent Dennis Riker says more than 700 students were absent Monday, more than half of whom were out for COVID-related reasons. The number of students missing class Monday is about 15-percent of the district's entire student body. The school district dropped its mask mandate in late November, but has recently changed its mind and is now requiring masks for students in grades five-through-12. In grades K-through-four, masks are recommended but remain optional.
A resurgence of COVID cases in the Lehigh Valley is prompting local schools to tinker with their schedule. Catasauqua High School will shift to remote learning for the rest of the week because of staffing shortages. The superintendent is hopeful students will be able to return to the high school next Monday. The Phillipsburg School District will switch to virtual learning for the same reason. The district was closed Tuesday and will go all-virtual from this Wednesday until January 14th.
COVID-19 continues surging across the nation and in New Jersey. The state reported more than 25,000 additional infections yesterday and confirmed 79 deaths related to the virus. Hospitalizations are soaring to all time highs, with more than 5000 patients, a number that hasn't been reported since May 2020. Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says hospitals are being hit hard by the latest surge as medical professionals start coming down with the virus, and has reached out to FEMA to help with staffing issues.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's administration and the federal government are responding to questions about flights that have landed at Scranton's and Allentown's airports over the past month. Those planes were reportedly filled with illegal immigrants, mostly children. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said it's their legal responsibility to care for unaccompanied children in federal custody, and that if they can locate a vetted sponsor, they arrange travel to get the child with that sponsor. The Wolf administration says it's a federal matter, but confirms kids passed through Wilkes-Barre to be unified with their parents or sponsors. The administration adds all unaccompanied children must be medically cleared to travel, and that the federal government has been administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible children since the summer.
It appears to be a good bet the Lehigh Valley will be getting snow within the next 36 hours or so. "It doesn't look like a big storm, but I think it'll cause travel disruptions later tomorrow night and into early Friday," says Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg. He says by the time the storm departs on Friday, two-to-four inches will be left behind.
The Allentown PD got a little help from the FBI Tuesday. FBI agents helped arrest a person involved in a crash in Allentown Tuesday afternoon. Agents tried to stop a car in the area of East Cumberland and South Carlisle streets as part of an ongoing investigation. The vehicle attempted to flee, and hit an occupied vehicle. The two occupants then jumped out of the moving vehicle, which then left the road. The driver was quickly apprehended by FBI agents and taken into custody by the Allentown Police Department.
Fire forced a Lehigh County family out of their home early today. It began just before 3 o'clock in the 1500 block of North 25th Street in South Whitehall Township. There's no word of any injuries. The investigation continues.
Part of Route 378 in Northampton County was closed into the early evening on Tuesday after a Monday night crash. A vehicle left 378 between Seidersville Road and Mountain Drive North in Lower Saucon Township just after 8:30 Monday night. It hit a utility pole, knocking it and wires down. Police are still investigating and it's reported the driver fled the scene.
Southmoore Golf Course has reportedly been bought for $2.63 million by a warehouse developer. Waters Edge at Wind Gap acquired the property in December. Last year, Waters Edge proposed placing two warehouses on the golf course in Moore Township.
A zoo in the Poconos is asking people to think about another way to get rid of your Christmas trees. Claws 'N Paws zoo in Lake Ariel is accepting Christmas tree donations. The trees will be used by the animals at the park, including two lions who love to roll around with them. You can donate your tree any day of the week between 10:00 a.m and 4:00 p.m.
Current Pennsylvania Attorney General and Democrat candidate for governor Josh Shapiro has made his choice for lieutenant governor. Shapiro says Allegheny County State Rep. Austin Davis is the man for the job. "I want to make sure that I have a partner with me. A partner who is going to challenge me. A partner who has different life experiences. Someone who is able to speak to his own life experiences in a way that can inform our administration," Shapiro says. Davis has been a state representative since 2019. Shapiro and Davis are not an official tickets as in Pennsylvania voters elect their governor and lieutenant governor individually.
The lawmaker who introduced legislation to impeach Gov. Tom Wolf two years ago has announced his retirement at the end of his term. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican representing part of Butler County, has announced that he does not plan to seek re-election in 2022. Metcalfe is currently serving in his 12th term as a state representative. Metcalfe serves as the republican majority chairman of the house environmental resources and energy committee and as a chairman of the house state government committee.
New Jersey is developing a fund to invest in businesses across the state. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is heading up the initiative, which is dubbed the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund. The program aims to use public and private money to address the state's shortfalls when it comes to venture capital funding and helping entrepreneurs succeed. The agency is set to hold two virtual public hearings this Thursday and registration links can be found on the NJEDA's website.
Jalen Hurts is making his voice heard after Sunday's collapsed railing incident. The Eagles quarterback wrote a letter to the Washington Football Team and NFL to ask about what actions would be taken after a group of fans fell six feet when a railing on the side of the tunnel collapsed as hurts was walking off the field. Hurts said "it could have been so much worse" after he and the group avoided any serious injuries. WFT President Jason Wright said he sent a private email in response to Hurts and that the team is working "to ensure this does not happen again".