TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 24TH, 2020

The region is under a winter weather advisory from 4pm this afternoon until 1pm Christmas Day. The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh is calling for three to five inches of snow and possible hazardous traveling conditions.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is warning drivers to not go out during the winter storm and if you do have to travel to be very careful.  The agency is anticipating that restrictions on trucks and other vehicles will be imposed on certain roadways around the state. Speed limits would be restricted to 45 mph on these roadways for all vehicles while restrictions are in place, and commercial vehicles not affected by the restrictions must move to the right lane. Additional speed restrictions on other interstates could be added depending on changing conditions. Weather conditions will be varied across the state, and PennDOT urges motorists to avoid travel if possible.

A federal judge is refusing requests from restaurants and a trade association to block Governor Tom Wolf’s order that bans indoor dining amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The U-S Middle District judge added that his court can’t step in because the groups pushing for the stay didn’t demonstrate a civil rights violation.  The governor’s temporary ban is to be in place until at least January 4th.

A Sharon man is facing charges following a shooting incident this past Sunday. According to the Sharon Herald, 18 year old Nathaniel Bianco is charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, reckless endangerment and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police responded to a report of gunfire in the 900 block of 10th St.  No one was injured. The incident remains under investigation.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is trying to help struggling businesses during the pandemic.  With the General Assembly’s approval, 145-million-dollars could be going to small businesses throughout the state soon.  Wolf does acknowledge the amount is not enough to solve the problem however, he believes giving businesses a small financial cushion is a step in the right direction.  He is moving the money from the Workers’ Compensation Fund.

A reward is being offered for any information that leads to the arrest of a McKeesport officer’s shooter.  The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms announced yesterday that it is offering ten-thousand dollars for information that leads to the arrest of 22-year-old Koby Lee Francis.  Along with the ten-thousand dollars, the owner of the Schultz Ford car dealerships is offering a five-thousand-dollar reward for information.  Anyone who has seen Francis is being asked to call 9-1-1.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is planning to open more pop-up COVID-19 testing sites.  Dr. Rachel Levine announced yesterday that the department is preparing to open testing that include Beaver County. The testing sites are going to be available starting December 27th.  Levine says the testing sites will be changing over a nine-week period so that at least 60 counties can be covered.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is warning hunters, boaters and fishermen about dangerous water conditions.  The commission asked residents yesterday to use extra caution on or around water for the next couple of days.  Officials say warmer temperatures, heavy rainfall and melting snow can make water levels rapidly rise and become very dangerous.

The state health department is reporting another 96-hundred-plus cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania as of Wednesday’s update.  Since March, now 14-thousand-441 people in the state have died from the virus. Lawrence County reported 67 new cases yesterday bringing its total to 3,862 cases. Health officials report three more people have died from Covid-19. The county now reports 115 fatalities. Mercer County has 5,364 and 113 deaths.

Representatives with the United States Postal Service say several factors are contributing to delays in holiday deliveries.  The USPS said this week that employee shortages due to COVID-19 is just one reason why they’re seeing so many delays.  Add historic volume and the delays are compounded.  Still, the postal service says they are working to ensure that as many packages are delivered on time as possible ahead of the holiday weekend.