TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 10TH, 2021

Students at Lincoln High School in Ellwood City are returning to remote-learning due to an outbreak of positive COVID-19 cases at the school.  The district announced this past Monday that the Crescent Avenue building would be shut down after five more positive cases were reported.  Lincoln High School students are expected to remain in remote-learning until at least February 23rd.  Officials say parents will be notified if their children are considered at-risk through contact tracing.

A Mercer County woman arrested last week and accused of taking part in January’s insurrection on Capitol Hill was granted bond on Tuesday.  Rachel Powell, who stood out to many who have seen video of the events in Washington as the ‘pink hat lady,’ is seen in recordings breaking windows and trying to direct others.  She has admitted that she is the one in the videos.  The presiding judge yesterday said she thinks that Powell is a danger to the community but believes steps could be taken to protect it.  She has ordered that Powell should surrender her passport and guns and remain on home detention.

An Edinburg man was sentenced in connection with an arson from February of last year. 19 year old Michael Lambright pleaded guilty Monday in Common Pleas Court to a count of conspiracy to commit aggravated arson while people were present inside of a house that burned. According to the New Castle News, Lambright was one of three men accused of setting fire to three homes and a barn on February 2nd of last year.  Lambright was sentenced to one to two years in the Lawrence County Jail.

Governor Tom Wolf is showing his support to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.  Governor Wolf announced yesterday that he is calling for the state to increase the minimum wage to 12-dollars per hour starting this July.  Wolf’s proposed plan would add fifty-cent increases to the minimum wage rate every year until 2027 when it reaches 15-dollars per hour.  He also proposed an income tax cut that would affect almost three-million citizens in the state.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout Pennsylvania. Health officials say from Sunday to Tuesday, the state total saw an increase of more than eleven-thousand new cases, pushing it close to 877-thousand. About 224 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 22-thousand-620. Lawrence County has 5,691 and 175 deaths as one more county resident has died from the virus. Mercer County has 7,707 cases and 233 fatalities.

Giant Eagle is preparing to turn all of its pharmacies into COVID-19 vaccination sites soon.  The company’s chief pandemic officer announced yesterday that more than 15-thousand residents have been vaccinated at Giant Eagle stores across Pennsylvania so far.  He says while there are concerns about the number of doses available, the company is working towards turning all of its pharmacies into vaccination sites this year.  Eligible residents who are interested in receiving a vaccination are being asked to make an appointment on Giant Eagle’s website.

Governor Tom Wolf is renewing the state’s opioid disaster declaration again.  The governor’s administration announced yesterday that he signed the 13th renewal of his 2018 opioid disaster declaration.  The declaration helps Pennsylvania battle against its opioid and heroin epidemic by allowing the state to work outside of typical procedures to treat and prevent opioid use.  Officials say the declaration is a critical tool in developing needs of treatment to save lives in the state.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report the average price for gasoline in Western Pennsylvania increased by five cent to 2.77 a gallon. In New Castle the average price is at 2.54 a gallon while in Mercer County drivers are paying 2.71.  The average national gas price has risen by four cents over the last week to $2.46 which is two cents more expensive than one year ago. AAA reports that crude oil prices remain higher than at any point in the last year which may result in continued increases at the pump.