TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 10TH, 2021

A car smashed into the Goodwill Store on Ellwood Road in Shenango Township around four o’clock yesterday afternoon. According to WFMJ-TV a car went through the store’s brick wall causing minor injuries to the two people inside the car. The driver says that he went to put the car in park when it revved up and hit the building. Nobody inside the store was injured. Crews are working to repair the load bearing wall that was damaged.

The search for a missing elderly man in Butler County is over.  Seventy-four-year-old Dennis Fester was found down a steep hillside along a creek near Route 356 in Buffalo Township yesterday.  He was rescued after crews pulled him up about one-hundred-feet to safety.  Officials say Fester had to be flown to a hospital in Pittsburgh via a medical helicopter, but his condition is unknown.

Over one-thousand school employees in Beaver County are preparing to receive their first dose of the new Johnson-and-Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.  Officials announced yesterday that Beaver County is expecting to get about 16-hundred doses of the vaccine this week.  In that shipment, more than one-hundred doses will go to the Beaver Area School District and about 173 doses will go to the Hopewell School District.

State lawmakers are proposing legislation that would require the state to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses to counties by population. State Representative Wendi Thomas says there has been disparities in the amount of vaccines being distributed across the state. She emphasized that the state should handle distribution like the federal government and allocate doses based on population. Speaker of the House Bill Patton says the House will review the bill after it’s introduced and sent to a committee. However, he added that the formula Thomas and other lawmakers want to use to allocate vaccines disregards differences between counties such as age distribution and health conditions.

Officials are looking at what can be done to get more workers in nursing homes and other long-termcare facilities vaccinated against COVID-19. Pennsylvania Health Care Association President and CEO Zach Shamberg says he was initially surprised by the number of nursing home workers not getting vaccinated against coronavirus.  Shamberg says they’re working to educate nursing home employees about the importance of getting vaccinated. While about 58 percent of PA nursing home workers have been vaccinated, the national average is 40 percent.

Payments for unemployment compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants are being delayed. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry says direct deposits and debit card payments that were scheduled for yesterday will be available today. Those that were scheduled for today will be made available tomorrow.

Residents needing to apply for aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can now do so over the phone.  State officials on Tuesday announced that a line has now been set up to improve the application process.  The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services says that the enrollment for SNAP benefits has increased by nearly five-percent since the start of the pandemic.  Paper applications will continue to be accepted, but those wanting to apply by phone can call 1-866-550-4355.  On average, applications are processed in about six days.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh this week has begun planning for the return of live entertainment.  Locally-based cover band No Bad JuJu will perform at the casino’s entertainment center on March 26th.  The venue says the guests must purchase a minimum of two tickets, and that seating will be social distanced.  Masks will be required, and ticket sales will be capped at 250 guests.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout Pennsylvania. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of nearly three-thousand new cases, pushing it over 953-thousand. About 40 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 24-thousand-396. Lawrence County is reporting 6,189 cases and 187 deaths. Mercer County is reporting 8,283 Covid-19 cases and 241 fatalities.