Pennsylvania schools will remain shuttered for the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened thousands and caused hundreds of deaths statewide, under an order signed Thursday by the state’s education secretary.The extended shutdown order affects more than 1.7 million students in public and private K-12 schools. It means children will spend the rest of the year learning remotely.Gov. Tom Wolf made the decision after consulting with Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Dr. Rachel Levine, the state health secretary.

With the Governor’s order yesterday closing schools for the rest of the academic year the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has cancelled all remaining Winter and Spring sports and championships. Executive Director Robert Lombardi said it was a difficult decision however the Board’s position reflects a steadfast priority of keeping our student-athletes, officials and member schools’ staffs and their communities safe, while following the guidelines provided by the Governor, the Department of Health and the Department of Education.”

Department of Health officials say there are nearly two-thousand more cases of coronavirus across P-A.  Yesterday, the total rose to 18-thousand-228 with all 67 counties reporting at least one positive case.  Yesterday, the death toll increased by 29 to a total of 338.  More than 87-thousand patients tested negative across the Commonwealth since the pandemic began. Lawrence County now has 37 coronavirus cases while Mercer County has 30 cases.

New Castle Police are investigating a homicide in the city. According to the department’s facebook page the incident happened around 7:45 p.m. in the area of Pin Oak Drive in the Oak Leaf Garden Housing Complex. Officers arrived on the scene to find a vehicle being driven by friends and family with the victim inside. Police escorted the car to UPMC Jameson and learned that the victim, 26-year-old Eiram Alfonso Santiago-Hernandez, was pronounced dead at the hospital. The investigation is ongoing.

New Castle City Council unanimously approved extending the state of emergency during its Thursday meeting. According to the New Castle News The new order will be in effect through May 31. New Castle Mayor Chris Frye first executed the declaration on March 18, and the council extended the order on March 21 to be in effect through April 22.  The declaration allows the city to receive state and federal aid funds available for COVID-19 relief.

Officials with Rivers Casino say they are going to furlough most of their employees starting next week.  In a statement from the casino, the furloughs are expected to last through June 30th, with those affected maintaining their health benefits.  The remaining employees will reportedly be taking pay cuts.

Researchers with the University of Pittsburgh and U-P-M-C doctors are beginning a clinical trial for different coronavirus therapies.  They are using artificial intelligence to determine which method could work best and they’re doing it faster than the typical trial.  They are trying the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, steroids, and other drugs that help boost an individual’s immune system in the hopes of fast tracking an effective therapy.

Beaver County Transit Authority will suspend its Route Four services into Pittsburgh starting Monday.  Riders will still be able to use B-C-T-A Route One until normal service resumes after the risk of coronavirus passes.  Those service changes are available on B-C-T-A’s website.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is lifting the buying limit on dairy items.  A dairy purchasing limit was in place at grocery stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  State Representative Aaron Bernstine confirmed the measure on his Facebook page and urged fellow officials to notify him if limits still exist.