TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 7TH, 2020

New Castle Firemen were called to the scene of a house fire yesterday afternoon. According to the New Castle News The fire broke out around 3:30 at a home on Franklin Avenue. The occupants were not home at the time of the fire. Officials said three family dogs perished the blaze. A woman and her two sons were left homeless. The cause of the fire remains under investigation but it is believed to be accidental. The Red Cross is assisting the family.

State Police in Lawrence County are on the hunt for suspects following a Saturday morning hit-and-run in Wayne Township.  Troopers say they are looking for the driver and a passenger who were traveling on Route 351 when they struck two parked vehicles in a driveway.  A third vehicle was also hit sending that one crashing into a building.  The vehicle causing all of this damage then struck a guardrail.  Two people ran from the car.  A third stayed behind and waited for police.

Positive COVID-19 cases are rising in Pennsylvania.  The Department of Health announced an update to its coronavirus dashboard on Saturday that added almost 13-thousand new positive cases.  There is also a reported five-thousand-230 people who are hospitalized due to the virus.  The state’s total active cases are now over 410-thousand. Lawrence County has 2,597 total Covid-19 cases and 77 fatalities as two more people died over the weekend due to complications of Covid-19. Mercer County has 3,468 cases and 57 deaths.

The Lawrence County Courthouse is now closed to the public starting today and will remain closed until January 4th of 2021. The closing is due to the surge of Covid-19 cases in Lawrence County. The only exceptions to the restriction will be in the case of emergency orders that deal with the health and safety of individuals. The sheriff and veterans affairs offices will assist residents on an appointment-only basis.

Residents of Mercer County will not see a property tax increase in 2021. The Sharon Herald reports Mercer County Commissioners adopted a balanced 2021 budget that keeps property taxes steady. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact, county officials avoided a tax increase for a fourth consecutive year. Commissioners said the county was able pass a 2021 budget without raising taxes in part because of a $9.8 million grant from the federal government as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act adopted in March.

The Allegheny County Health Network is reaching out to donors to let them know of a security breach involving a cloud-based IT company.  AHN uses a company called Blackbaud to manage pieces of sensitive information including donor lists and fundraising records.  According to a statement released by the Allegheny Health Network on Friday, Blackbaud was the subject of a ransomware attack earlier this year.  While bank account, credit card info and social security data were not accessed by the hackers, some information may have been exposed including names, emails and addresses.

State lawmakers in Harrisburg unveiled a $4 billion economic relief package on Friday. The Senate Democratic Caucus said that the package is aimed at stimulating the Pennsylvania economy through direct aid to families, front line workers, and businesses.  Democrats said the package of bills would fund previously existing aid programs and create new ones to help those who are struggling.

Free COVID-19 testing is being offered in Butler County.  The Pennsylvania Health Department sent a strike team to the county this past Friday, and the team will be giving free tests until tomorrow.  The testing is being held at Michelle Krill Field at Historic Pullman Park from nine-in-the-morning until six-in-the-afternoon.  Officials say about 450 people can be tested per day.