The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to say statistics show unvaccinated individuals have a far greater chance of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. The department's latest figures show unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people make up 78-percent of reported COVID cases, 85 percent of COVID-related hospitalizations and 84-percent of COVID-related deaths in the commonwealth. Roughly one-third of all Pennsylvania hospital ICU beds are occupied by patients with COVID. As of Monday, the CDC reports three-quarters of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are considered fully vaccinated.
The federal government is offering free at-home COVID tests through the U.S. Postal Service. Residential households can offer one set of four rapid antigen tests. Officials are urging residents to take advantage of the program, which can be reached at www.covidtests.gov. The program will fully launch today and orders will ship free by late January.
After a dreadful year in 2020 caused by pandemic shutdowns, Lehigh Valley International Airport rebounded strongly last year. LVIA says its passenger count jumped up by more than 92-percent last year to more than 752,000, which nearly matched 2018's passenger numbers. The airport says the Thanksgiving/Christmas flying season was especially big, with a 146-percent increase in passenger traffic over December 2020. United, Delta, Allegiant and American all finished with numbers more than 100-percent better than the previous calendar year.
Redner’s Markets will temporarily reinstate its pandemic wage increase of a $1 an hour for all hourly front-line staff. The supermarket chain will make the increase effective for the week ending Jan. 15. Company leaders say the move is to "recognize the extraordinary efforts of our front-line associates as they continue to work through extremely difficult circumstances." There's no indication how long the wage increase would be in effect.
University of Pennsylvania researchers have created a chewing gum laced with a plant-grown protein that "traps" and neutralizes the virus that causes COVID. They report the gum can lower viral load in saliva and potentially reduce transmission rates. Study leader Henry Daniell of Penn's School of Dental Medicine says the gum offers a way to possibly cut down on one source of how the disease is transmitted. Study authors are already working on gaining approval for a clinical trial.
A bill introduced recently in the state Senate Education Committee would use funds from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act to create education savings accounts. Funding in Senate Bill 1015 would be capped at $500 million. It has been introduced by Republican St. Sen. Ryan Aument. The measure would expire when the state moves into the endemic phase of COVID-19. The education savings accounts can be used on tuition for nonpublic schools as weBl as distance learning and other expenses for nonpublic schools.
be sure to grab your vaccination card the next time you decide to go out to eat in Philadelphia. Anyone over the age of 12-years-old must be fully vaccinated in order to have a bite indoors at their favorite restaurant. This also goes for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys and indoor sporting venues. Unvaccinated people may still eat outdoors at locations with outside dining spaces.
The Allentown School District calendar might be changing later this year. At next week's meeting, the Allentown School Board will vote on next school year's calendar, which, as it stands now, would move the first day of school from after Labor Day to before the holiday. Last week, the board voted unanimously to put the proposed calendar up for a vote this month. The Allentown School District is the only local district to start classes after Labor Day.
Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg says when you wake up tomorrow morning you'll probably see a little bit of snow on the ground. "The initial burst of precipitation, I think, will be rain and then as the cold front comes through behind it the rain changes over to a little snow. That ends tomorrow morning, probably right after the morning commute, so the morning drive could be compromised as temperatures fall a little bit, things could get very slippery for a two-to-four hour period tomorrow morning," Lundberg says. He figures the rain will change to snow sometime after midnight.
A man wanted for a New year's Eve murder in Allentown has been arrested in Virginia. 25-year-old Joseph Suydam allegedly shot Jermel Johnson in the 300 block of North Ninth Street. Johnson died three days later. Investigators believe Johnson was shot during a marijuana deal. Suydam was arrested in Virginia by U.S. Marshals.
Four employees of a Slate Belt business are accused of stealing copper and selling it for more than $39,000 at two salvage yards. The thefts allegedly happened from June to November of last year at Advantage Electrical Services in Plainfield Township.
A building on West Broad Street in Bethlehem will soon be filled. Steak & Steel Hibachi and Catalina Dry Bar hair salon are both moving into the building, which is currently home to three other businesses. Catalina Dry Bar is moving from its current home on New Street. After renovations to the building, the two businesses are expected to move in sometime this spring.
Good Shepherd's outpatient site has moved to a brand-new, larger location less than two miles from its former site. Its new location, off Route 873 in North Whitehall Township, will be 3900-square-feet and offer private treatment rooms and the most-modern exercise and therapy equipment.
A new bill introduced in the state Senate this past week would allow military parents to spend educational opportunity account money on tuition for nonpublic schools. Senate Bill 999, sponsored by senators Doug Mastriano and Ryan Aument would create similar educational opportunity accounts to expand school choice for military families. The accounts would be funded by the state per-pupil education subsidy. The bill would also allow military parents to spend the money on higher education, distance learning and other expenses for nonpublic schools.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs more than 100 pieces of legislation into law on the first day of his second term. The laws encompass a lot of topics, including enhanced employment opportunities and combating the opioid epidemic. The list goes on to support veterans and those in the armed forces and establishing a New Jersey nonprofit security grant program. The governor took his oath of office yesterday alongside Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.