TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 16TH, 2020

Lawrence and Mercer County are under a winter weather advisory until 7am Thursday morning. Three to five inches of snow is expected throughout the storm. Forecasters are advising motorists to plan on slippery driving conditions for the evening commute.

With severe winter weather in the forecast, the United States Postal Service is putting out the word to residents.  Folks are encouraged to keep the areas around their mailboxes clear of snow and to shovel their sidewalks when possible.  The post office says that keeping those areas free of snow and ice will allow postal carriers to delivery mail and packages safely.

Positive COVID-19 cases are increasing in Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania Department of Health updated its COVID-19 statistics yesterday and added more than 95-hundred positive cases.  About 270 more people have died due to complications of the coronavirus as well.  There are currently over six-thousand people hospitalized because of the virus, and the state’s positivity rate went up to 16-point-two-percent. Lawrence County has 3,294 cases and 93 fatalities. Mercer County has 4,575 cases and 76 deaths.

The tenth allotment of COVID-19 antigen tests is being distributed to about 20 counties who never received the shipment.  The Wolf Administration announced yesterday that all 67 counties in the state have now gotten a shipment of antigen test kits.  Officials say the test kits can show an antigen on the surface of the SARS-COV-2 virus and detect viral RNA.  They are being provided to the state by the federal government.

A Youngstown, Ohio man was sentenced to eight years in federal prison this week for his part in an armed robbery.  Demetrius Harris had pleaded guilty in connection with the robbery of the First National Bank in Farrell in November of last year.  Prosecutors says that three men were involved in the heist.  Harris and one of the others went into the bank branch, pulled their weapons and made off with an estimated 62-thousand dollars as the third man served as a lookout.  Harris was found soon after with a backpack containing approximately 55-thousand dollars.  He confessed to the crime.  The other two men are awaiting trial.

State Police in Mercer County report a tractor trailer accident on interstate 80 from last night. According to police the accident happened around 7 p.m., leaving the truck on its side. I-80 eastbound was closed between Exit 29 in Venango County to Exit 24 near Grove City in Mercer County  for about three hours. There were no reports of injuries.

Administrators at Pittsburgh International Airport this week have revealed that ticketed passengers, starting Monday, will have the option of being tested on-site for COVID before or after a flight.  A site in the airport will be operated by a Georgia-based health company and will provide testing for 95-dollars for a rapid antigen test, 125-dollars for a PCR test, and 175-dollars for both tests.  The company estimates having as many as eight licensed healthcare workers on staff and will test daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Positive test results will not be shared with the testing site or with the airport.  Instead, those results will go to the Allegheny County Health Department.

A man registered as a sexually violent offender has been arrested for allegedly moving from Mercer County without notifying authorities. State Police say 47 year old James Cozin  was arrested in Butler,  on Friday.  Police said  he had been living since earlier this month. Cozin was convicted of indecent assault in 2003. Cozin moved without changing his address registration which is required for sex offenders under Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law. He has a hearing scheduled for December 21st.

A farm in Butler is giving back to health care workers during the holiday season.  Freedom Farms Farmers Market is giving away free Christmas trees to health care workers, first responders or to those who are struggling during the holiday season.  The market said if anyone falls into those categories they can come pick out a tree.  However, there is a limit of one tree per household.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price of gasoline across western Pennsylvania increased three cents the past week to 2.52 a gallon. Drivers in New Castle are paying 2.19 a gallon while in Mercer County the average price in 2.66. The average national gas price held steady this week at $2.16 which is four cents less than last month and 40 cents cheaper than this date last year. Demand for gas has dropped over the past month while coronavirus cases continue to remain high so AAA expects the trend of gas prices remaining relatively low to continue.