Here's what's trending for January 21.


Some Lehigh Valley health experts say the free COVID home tests the federal government are offering may arrive too late to ease the current surge in cases. One says the initiative is more like a baby step than what's needed. St. Luke's University Health Network infectious disease expert Dr. Jeffrey Jahre says said while the government's actions are commendable, they're not going to make much difference for testing when homes have more than one child in school. But he says the tests may come in handy for future surges, as long as they don't expire before then.

Easton Mayor Sal Panto has closed city hall because many city employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and can’t go to work, while others are quarantined since they were exposed to the employees who tested positive. The order closes city hall immediately. It’s unclear how many employees have COVID or were exposed to COVID, or when city hall might reopen.

Parking revenue suggests many stayed away from the Pennsylvania Farm Show during the still-raging pandemic. The Department of Agriculture says parking revenue was down by more than 40% from 2020, the most recent in-person show. Last year's show was done virtually. The Farm Show doesn't charge admission or count how many people come through its doors, so parking revenue is used as a rough proxy to gauge attendance. In a normal year, some 500,0000 people attend.

Gov. Phil Murphy says New Jersey could drop its school mask mandate by the end of the school year. That's only if COVID-19 figures continue to drop. He made the hopeful suggestion during an interview Thursday morning, saying he thinks there's "a real shot" since the school year ends in June. He said the state is certainly in the "early days of turning the corner" but made no solid promises.

Allentown police are investigating after a Thursday night shooting. Officers were called to the area of Jordan and Gordon Streets for a report of shots fired in the area just before 6:30 last night. Arriving officers found a man suffering from a gunshot wound and the man was taken to a local hospital. He is expected to survive.

The Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners has greenlighted building a hospital and a medical office building on the site of a former grocery store. The plan includes the construction of a 23,000-square-foot, one-story hospital, and a nearly 11,000-square-foot, three-story medical office building on the site of the former Weis supermarket along Route 100. The proposal calls for the former grocery store to be torn down and reconfiguring the existing parking lot into 194 spaces. The hospital will feature in-patient and emergency rooms.

On the floor of the House Thursday, Congresswoman Susan Wild remembered Allentown policeman James Stanko, who died earlier this week. "Officer Stanko wasn't known for sitting idly at a desk. He passion was out in the community where he was known for mentoring our kids. Whether it was through coaching basketball, talking at schools or offering life lessons at the children's clinics," Wild said. She said Stanko's passing is a huge loss for the community.

There has never been a bigger year for Pennsylvania casinos than 2021. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says the combined revenue brought in by slot machines, table games, sports betting, iGaming, video game terminals and fantasy contests totaled more than $4.7 billion. That far surpasses the previous record of $3.4 billion set in 2019. Every type of gambling set all-time records in Pennsylvania, except for slot machines.

There's not a lot of time left to finish a new congressional district map for Pennsylvania. Senate leaders say they're negotiating a deal that will hopefully pass muster with Gov. Wolf. Meanwhile, the governor put out his 'own' map this past weekend. GOP Sen. David Argall says, "We're not quite there yet. We're trying to avoid some of the gerrymandering sins of the past. We've been much more open than in the past. We've had a lot more public hearings." Commonwealth Court has given lawmakers and the governor until the end of the month to produce a map they can agree on.

The FDA is issuing a recall on packages of frozen spinach sold at stores in Pennsylvania because of possible listeria contamination. The recall is for 12-ounce bags of frozen chopped spinach marked with lot numbers R17742 or R177963and a best by date of September 10th, 2023. Listeria contamination can be fatal to young children or the elderly, with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Consumers are asked to return packages to where they were purchased for a full refund.

Statements made by Tree of Life shooting suspect Robert Bowers can be used against him at trial. That ruling came Thursday from a federal judge who had considered a motion by defense attorneys to prevent the statements from being presented. Bowers' lawyers had said their client's rights had been violated when he was questioned by officers on the morning of the synagogue attack that left eleven people dead. The judge stated that the questions posed to Bowers by SWAT officers on October 27th, 2018 were designed to ensure the safety of the officers and the public rather than to elicit incriminating answers.

New Jersey is developing its water infrastructure investment plan. Department of Environmental Protections Commissioner Shawn Latourette says the $1 billion effort will provide short term and long-term investments that create good paying jobs and deliver safe drinking water while reducing flooding. Stakeholders will be able to participate in virtual engagement sessions starting next week.


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