TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MAY 15TH, 2020

Lawrence County fire officials are investigating what caused a house fire in Shenango Township Wednesday night.  Crews responded to a home that was under repair on Pennsylvania Avenue around 11 p.m. and discovered a massive fire.  No one was injured, but a home next door sustained damages.

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh says masses will start back up on June 1st.  In a statement issued Thursday, they say that’s when daily in-person masses will begin.  They also have a goal to have weekend mass resume the weekend of June 6th and 7th.  Funerals and weddings will be limited to up to 25 people while in the yellow reopening phase.

State health officials are adding 938 new COVID-19 cases to the state total.  That brings P-A to 59,636. since the start of the pandemic.  Health department representatives also announced 275 additional deaths related to coronavirus complications across the commonwealth, with the death toll now exceeding 42-hundred. No new cases or deaths were reported in Lawrence County, which has 71 cases and seven deaths. In Mercer County, cases are up to 81 from 78, and there are still two deaths.

Health officials in Butler County are reporting two new coronavirus cases, bringing the countywide total to just shy of 200 since the start of the pandemic.  Representatives with Butler Memorial Hospital say they are treating just two patients for COVID-19.  No one in their I-C-U has been confirmed or is believed to have coronavirus.

Governor Tom Wolf is planning on announcing more counties that can move from the red to yellow phase today. During a teleconference yesterday, Wolf did not give a specific date when the counties could reopen and did not say which counties he plans on moving. Last week about 24 counties from northwest and northcentral parts of the state were the first to make the change. The yellow designation would ease COVID-19 restrictions and allow businesses and activities to resume.

PennDOT says the 1,059 highway fatalities which occurred in Pennsylvania in 2019 were the lowest since record-keeping began in 1928.  There declines were declines in highway fatalities involving unrestrained vehicle occupants,  aggressive drivers, drivers 65 and older and pedestrian,  while there were increases in fatalities in motorcycle, stop controlled intersection and vehicle failure-related crashes in 2019.

For the first time in 20 years, Triple-A will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast, as the accuracy of the economic data used to create the forecast has been undermined by COVID-19. The annual forecast – which estimates the number of people traveling over the holiday weekend – will return next year. Triple-A expects to make travel projections for the late summer and fall, assuming states ease travel restrictions and businesses reopen. Already, there are indications that Americans’ desire to travel is inspiring them to plan future vacations.

The lone western Pennsylvania county in the state’s “red” phase will be allowed to reopen next week.  Governor Tom Wolf is expected to promote Beaver County to the yellow level today.  The county remained under a stay-at-home order because of a high-number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at one nursing home.  Beaver County officials and business owners were preparing to open in defiance of the governor if restrictions were not eased.

More people are going to work at Shell’s cracker plant in Beaver County.  The Pittsburgh Business Times reports Shell is slowly recalling construction crews to jumpstart the project.  Construction was halted in March because of COVID-19 concerns, putting nearly seven-thousand people out of work.  Only 300 employees remained on site for security and approved maintenance.

There’s no more room on the 814 area code.  Public Utility Commission officials say they will begin to overlay a new area code, 582, and residents will soon have to dial ten digits, instead of just seven.  The 814 area code is the largest in the state that includes portions of Mercer County.