Tri County Report For January 5th, 2020

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout Pennsylvania. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of more than 32-hundred new cases, pushing it over 665-thousand. About 66 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 16-thousand-361. Lawrence County added 41 cases yesterday bringing it’s total to 4,431 Covid-19 cases. Another county resident has died from the virus. The death toll now stands at 130.

Jim Brewster’s oath of office after winning the 45th District race is being delayed by Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman called for the delay of Brewster taking his seat yesterday during a conference call.  This follows Brewster’s Republican challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli, filing an election contest about three days ago.  Brewster won his third four-year term in November over Ziccarelli by almost 70 votes.  Corman says the state Senate needs “time to digest” Ziccarelli’s 500-page document that claims there were hundreds of illegally casted ballots counted in Allegheny County.  Democrat incumbent Brewster was supposed to take oath yesterday.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine is confident that COVID vaccinations are going to kick into high gear despite a slow start nationwide. Levine says the estimates made by the federal government to vaccinate 20-million people by the end of 2020 were higher than they should have been. However, now that the holidays are over Levine expects vaccinations to ramp up soon, and the state will be using federal funds from the new COVID relief bill to move into the next phase and start mass vaccination clinics.

Pennsylvania Democrats are trying to give some assistance to renters and homeowners who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Democrat lawmakers announced yesterday they will be proposing a bill that will extend the ban on evictions and foreclosures which is set to expire on February 23rd.  If approved, the bill will extend the ban for another two months.  Officials say there are about 240-thousand residents in the state who are close to being evicted.

Police officers in New Brighton Borough are going to be receiving new body cameras.  The borough accepted about 15-thousand-dollars in federal grant funds yesterday to purchase the cameras.  Officials say the money will be used to buy camera systems and data storage along with expanding body-worn camera systems for law enforcement.  Officers in New Brighton will be required to go through Bureau of Justice Assistance BWC training and technical assistance as part of the funding’s policy.

The Beaver County Conservation District is going to be working to improve Raccoon Creek after receiving a state grant.  The district was awarded a grant by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Plus program yesterday that is worth over 25-thousand dollars.  The funding will be used to improve Raccoon Creek’s streambank stability in Hanover Township.  The state’s program has given about 34-million-dollars in funding to almost 150 water projects across the commonwealth.

One person was taken to the hospital following a two vehicle accident in Butler County. According to state police 45 year old Jessica Zakrie of Parker was northbound on route 38 in Venango Township when she pulled into the path of a vehicle operated by 48 year old Chet Leech of Butler. Leech was taken to Butler Memorial Hospital for treatment.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report the average price of gasoline across Western Pennsylvania is at 2.51 a gallon. That’s four cents high than last week. In New Castle drivers are paying 2.24 a gallon while in Sharon the average price is at 2.35. The national price is at 2.25 a gallon, nine cents more than last month. A year ago motorists in Western Pennsylvania were paying 2.91 a gallon.