TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 23RD, 2020

One person is dead after a fiery head-on crash in Beaver County Tuesday night evening.  Emergency personnel say it happened around 4 p.m. in the 24-hundred block of Brodhead Road in Hopewell.  Both vehicles went up in flames following the collision. It wasn’t clear whether the victim was the driver or a passenger.  Injuries to the other people involved were not released.  The crash is under investigation.

PIAA officials issued new guidance for resuming winter sports in Pennsylvania and officials expect sports to resume on Jan. 4. According to a news release, the board said schools needed to have 10 days of practice before any competition. If schools already started, they need a combination of 10 practices. Schools that completed a preseason, including those that already played a game, must have a minimum of four practices to resume play.

The state Department of Health has launched a new digital coronavirus case investigation tool, known as Connect and Protect. It will be used for those between the ages of 19 and 64 with new cases ofCOVID-19 who live in counties without a municipal health department. The form allows health professionals to connect with more Pennsylvanians faster. The form asks for risk and demographic information, where individuals traveled and where they worked while they were infectious.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout Pennsylvania. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of nearly eight-thousand new cases, pushing it over 571-thousand. About 231 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is surpassing 14-thousand. Five more Lawrence County residents have died from Covid-19 bringing the death toll to 112. The county has 3,795 cases adding 54 to it’s total on Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is claiming it shouldn’t be subject to the state’s Right to Know Law.  The association filed a lawsuit against the state and its Office of Open Records this past Friday.  The lawsuit claims the Right to Know Law is violating the PIAA’s constitutional right of equal protection.  In a meeting yesterday, PIAA officials said they are frustrated with certain recent requests being filed by the commonwealth.  The PIAA has challenged the Right to Know Law about 17 times before.

The search continues today for 22-year-old Koby Lee Francis.  Francis is the man accused of shooting a McKeesport police officer in front of the police station on Sunday.  Multiple law enforcement agencies continue to be engaged in that search.  Anyone who sees him is asked to call 9-1-1.  The officer victim in the shooting is expected to be released from the hospital this week.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is at 2.47 a gallon. That’s five cents less than last week. In New Castle drivers are paying 2.16 a gallon while in Butler the price is at 2.37. The average national gas price rose this week at $2.22 which is six cents less than last week but still 33 cents cheaper than this date last year

The University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health will soon begin a study of fracking and its possible impact on the residents of Western Pennsylvania.  The effort is the result of a two-point-five-million dollar contract initiated by the Department of Health and announced yesterday by Governor Tom Wolf.  The agreement will fund two studies.  One will focus on childhood cancers and the other on acute conditions like asthma.

Another anticipated event has been canceled thanks to COVID.  The Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club this week has announced that the 2021 Polar Bear Plunge is off.  The New Year’s Day jump into the Mon River was to benefit Project Bundle-Up, a charity that provides warm winter clothes to those in need.  Donations to that organization can still be made at www.projectbundleup.org.