A Lehigh Valley Health Network official says many COVID patients are still ending up in intensive care units, which is putting a strain on already overworked health care workers. Dr. Alex Benjamin of Lehigh Valley Health Network tells the Morning Call that as of last Thursday about 30 percent of the network's ICU beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients. In the Lehigh Valley, 13-percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients required intensive care as of Monday. That's the lowest the rate has been since late July and slightly lower than the statewide figure of 16-percent. Monday, the commonwealth reported nearly 6900 hospitalized COVID patients, a daily record since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.
The Northampton County Prison reports that as of January 10th, 33 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in quarantine. Fourteen Department of Correction’s employees are in quarantine after testing positive for the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, 347 inmates have tested positive. The work release program at the prison has been suspended and will not be available during the next two months and possibly longer depending on community transmission rates of COVID-19.
Be sure to have your vaccination card with you for the next time you visit a museum in Philadelphia. That's because museums in the city are starting to require folks to be vaccinated to enter. The Mutter Museum and the Museum of the American Revolution joined several others yesterday that have set new mandates. Later this month, the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art will also require guests to be vaccinated upon entry.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is keeping masks in place in Garden State schools for now. "Mask mandates at schools and daycare centers will continue at least for the foreseeable future. These requirements give us no joy but are the only responsible course of action at this time," the governor says. Murphy says virtual learning is no replacement for in-person learning and he says having students continue wearing masks keeps those students in the classroom.
A leading Republican candidate was in the Lehigh Valley Monday. Dr. Mehmet Oz shot a campaign commercial at the Trivet in South Whitehall Township. He says while on the campaign trail he's hearing a lot of stories similar to his own. "I'm visiting my representatives to fix that problem. I felt the exact same way before I entered the race. I saw things in my own life, that I knew I wanted to do that I couldn't get done," he said. Oz is one of eight Republicans officially in the race to replace the retiring Pat Toomey.
Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg has two words of advice today: bundle up. "Today we're going to struggle getting up to 20. It's just that cold of an air mass," Lundberg says. After a very cold day today, Lundberg thinks we'll jump back up above freezing both today and tomorrow.
A Pennsylvania court has declined to block an entire subpoena to state election officials. The case revolves around what Republican state lawmakers call a "forensic investigation" of 2020's presidential election, fueled by former President Donald Trump's claims that Democrats stole the election. But the Commonwealth Court that issued the seven-page order did not immediately approve either of the release of some information. That part mainly concerns what Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro has challenged as being protected by privacy laws.
Legislation that emphasizes that all public school students learn how to read by fourth grade has won passage in the State House of Representatives. The bill, which passed Monday by a 201-0 vote, would require the state Department of Education to establish a teacher training course in the "science of reading," starting next school year.
The pandemic is being blamed, or credited, depending on your perspective, for record alcohol sales in Pennsylvania. According to the Liquor Control Board, alcohol sales hit a record $2.9 billion in 2021. That's almost a 14-point jump from the year before. Tequila sales shot up by more than half. Purchases of more expensive premium brands jumped 81% and the top liquor in nearly every county was unflavored vodka. Whiskey was a distant second.
A new family-friendly attraction will be coming to Atlantic City. The owner of Showboat Atlantic City says there will be a groundbreaking Wednesday for ISLAND Waterpark, billed as the world's biggest beachfront indoor waterpark. The 103,000-square-foot year-round waterpark will be located right next to Showboat will feature waterslides, a lazy river, pools, retail outlets, party rooms and lounge areas. A retractable glass-pane roof will make it a year-round attraction.
New Jersey is codifying marriage equality. Gov. Phil Murphy signed bipartisan legislation on Monday. State Attorney General Andrew Bruck applauded the move on Twitter. Bruck shared that he and his husband had gotten married in New York nine years ago, in part because it was illegal in the Garden State. Bruck says Jersey has come a long way in a short time.
Former Penn State football great Lavar Arrington is now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Arrington is becoming the 19th Nittany Lion to be enshrined among the best in the sport's history. While playing at PSU, Arrington was a two-time First-Team All-American and the Big Ten's co-defensive player of the year in 1998. After leaving Penn State, he spent seven seasons in the NFL with Washington and the New York Giants.