TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 19TH, 2020

The state is reporting its first death from the coronavirus.  The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced yesterday that a Lehigh Valley native passed away due to COVID-19.  According to reports, the Northampton County case was reported last Thursday and the patient was being treated at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem Township.  As of Wednesday, the state was up to 133 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 37 announced in the last day.

New Castle Mayor Chris Frye has declared a state of emergencey for the city of New Castle. According to the New Castle News, The proclamation, which went into effect at 4 p.m. Wednesday, allows the city to receive state and federal aid if a COVID-19 outbreak happens in New Castle. Frye encouraged all citizens to stay up-to-date on the COVID-19 response by visiting the city’s website at www.newcastlepa.org.

Beaver County officials confirmed yesterday a second case of COVID-19 in as many days.  The second patient is not connected to Beaver County’s first case, an Aliquippa School District employee who’s currently hospitalized.  The second case prompted Beaver County officials to close public access to the courthouse and county offices through at least the end of March.

Just as Lawrence County did earlier in the week, Butler County is taking swift action to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  The county commissioners voted yesterday to declare a state of emergency.  The declaration gives county officials the power to quickly obtain the resources needed to fight the spread of the virus.  Butler County has two of Pennsylvania’s 133 coronavirus cases.

An Enon Valley man faces charges of theft from his employer. State Police said 42 year old Albert Farinelli allegedly wrote checks to himself over a seventh month period from Keister Kustom Kabinetry in Wampum totaling around 56 hundred dollars. Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Construction of the Shell cracker plant in Monaca is on hold because of COVID-19 worries.  Project managers agreed to close the site yesterday after workers and Beaver County officials raised concerns about cleanliness.  The company was under fire for holding large group meetings and not providing clean restrooms for workers as the coronavirus outbreak spread across Pennsylvania.

State leaders are walking back a plan to close all rest stops along Pennsylvania highways.  Following a plea from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, PennDOT officials decided to reopen 13 of the state’s 30 rest areas for truck drivers carrying cargo through the commonwealth.  Each of the locations will have its parking lots open at night to allow drivers to get some sleep.  Indoor facilities will remain closed and a bank of five portable toilets will be positioned there, with each cleaned daily.

Bars and restaurants in western Pennsylvania are no longer serving dine-in customers to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  State officials are ordering establishments that serve food to shift to carryout and delivery only.  The order was handed down yesterday after the health department confirmed the state’s first COVID-19 death in Northampton County.

Members of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church in Moon Township are opening a community food pantry today.  The church’s Give-and-Take Pantry will have open access to shelves seven days a week and 24 hours a day.  Those shelves will be located under a portico near their parking lot.  They are accepting donations of non-perishable food items and paper supplies sealed in their original packaging.

Beaver County Commissioner Jack Manning says he is self-quarantining to protect his family from coronavirus.  Wednesday night, Manning said he and his wife will remain at their Chippewa Township home for, at least, the next ten-to-14 days.  Manning says they both are susceptible to the virus due to their age, as is every resident of Beaver County.  Manning adds that they are both healthy, not showing signs of infection, and don’t believe they have been exposed to the illness.