Tri County Report For December 31st, 2020

Pennsylvania residents and others around the state will soon be able to dine again at many of their favorite restaurants.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf yesterday announced that measures put in place earlier this month to help slow the spread of COVID will be allowed to expire on January 4th.  That means an end to the ban on indoor dining.  Indoor gatherings of more than ten people will be permitted again and retail business capacities will return to 75-percent.  The governor says that while COVID numbers are improving, residents still need to social distance and wear their masks to keep trends moving in the right direction.

Pennsylvania lawmakers say residents may have to wait weeks for their unemployment insurance to be active again.  The Acting Secretary for the Department of Labor and Industry said due to delays in getting the federal CARES Act extension signed into law, it pushed back the arrival of jobless aid.  The delay directly impacts more than 500-thousand Pennsylvanians who receive funding through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs.

WFMJ-TV is reporting an investigation continues Wednesday night after a person was struck by a vehicle in Hermitage. It happened along Highland Road near Kerrwood Drive. It’s unclear what led up to the accident or how badly that person is hurt.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout Pennsylvania. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of nine-thousand new cases, pushing it over 631-thousand. About 319 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 15-thousand-672. Lawrence County added 47 new Covid-19 yesterday bringing its total to 4,209. The death toll now stands at 129 as five more county residents have died from the virus.

Officials with the C-D-C say Pennsylvania’s total number of deaths are about eight percent higher than an average year.  There are some concerns that due to delays in reporting deaths in P-A, that percentage could rise or even double.  State health department officials say there have been over 15-thousand deaths in P-A related to COVID-19 complications this year.

Youth and high school winter sports are getting the green light from the governor and the Department of Health to resume on January 4th. Under the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s rules, before teams can compete they will need to practice four times starting Monday. They must also have a total of ten recorded practices between November 20th, when they can resume and their first game. Governor Tom Wolf says this does not mean we’re out of the woods by any means as significant mitigation efforts are still in place.

Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Pat Toomey is opposed to sending Americans two-thousand-dollar COVID-19 relief checks. Toomey says blindly borrowing or printing another two-thirds of a trillion-dollars to send two-thousand-dollars to children, the deceased and tens-of-millions of workers who haven’t missed a paycheck is not sound economic policy. The Republican senator believes a more targeted approach is necessary. This comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a vote on the stimulus checks for the second time yesterday.

People who use the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be paying more to use the road starting this Sunday. Tolls will go up 6% for E-ZPass users. Those who use toll-by-plate will see an additional 45% increase. Last March, Pennsylvania eliminated toll collectors and went to an all-electronic pay system.

With recent COVID health orders set to expire next week, the new LIVE Casino at Westmoreland Mall has announced that they will reopen at 8:01 a.m. on Monday.  The casino had been open only for a couple of weeks before being required to close due to health mandates.  Operators said that players can expect to find health protocols in place.  Those include mask requirements, temperature checks and social distancing.  Plexiglass dividers and hand sanitizing stations will also be in abundance.