TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 31ST, 2021

President Biden plans to visit Pittsburgh today.  The White House says that Biden will deliver remarks late this afternoon at the carpenters training facility in Collier.  His speech is expected to center on the effects of the recently-passed COVID aid package as well as new infrastructure and social program proposals.  This will be Joe Biden’s first visit to Pittsburgh as president.

Police in Shenango Township are looking for two people in connection with a robbery that took place Monday night. According to the New Castle News 35 year old Charlene Davis and 51 year old Benjamin Martinez, both of Booker Driver are accused of beating up a woman and stealing her wallet. Martinez and Davis each are charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, simple assault, theft and receiving stolen property. Warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Some COVID-19 guidelines are changing for schools in Pennsylvania.  Governor Tom Wolf announced new recommendations yesterday for K-through-12 schools on social distancing in classrooms.  Elementary school students are now allowed to be at least three-feet apart in classrooms, and high school and middle school students can be three-feet apart in counties with low-to-moderate community transmission.  The new recommendations will go into effect on Monday.

Two people were arrested following a high speed chase in Beaver County. According to State Police troopers attempted to a traffic stop in Koppel, when 30 year old Adam Pounds of Ellwood City fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Police said Pounds crashed the vehicle and was later apprehended. Pounds was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for treatment. Also arrested was 32 year old Brandi McNamara also of Ellwood City. Both individuals face drug charges.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of more than five-thousand new cases, pushing it over one-million-20-thousand. About 34 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 25-thousand-49. Lawrence County has 6,583 and 194 fatalities.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report, gas prices in Western Pennsylvania are down two cents this week to 3.01 a gallon. In New Castle drivers are paying 2.79 a gallon while in Mercer County the price is at 3.10. The average national gas price decreased by two cents over the last week to $2.86 which is the first time it has done so since November.

The state is about 75-percent done with vaccinating individuals in Phase One-A from COVID-19. This comes as the state reached the milestone of having distributed more than five-million doses of the vaccine. Governor Tom Wolf says they’re on track to get everyone in Phase One-A at least scheduled for a vaccine appointment by the end of this month. Once this month ends, officials plan on reviewing vaccine eligibility for the next phase of the distribution plan, which will include more essential workers.

COVID-19 restrictions for restaurants and bars are being loosened on April 4th, but owners are having trouble finding staff.  Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association officials say this is due to enhanced unemployment benefits, employees unable to get vaccinations and many have chosen to leave the industry entirely. Meanwhile, the state is still in Phase One-A of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, and officials hope restaurant workers can be moved into Phase One-B instead of C to help businesses hire more people.

According to 9th District State Representative Chris Sainato, School districts in the 9th Legislative District are expected to receive approximately $31.7 million in federal funding to ensure programs, services and safety measures are in place as more students return to the classroom. Sainato said the funding will help schools address a broad range of needs, from educational and building supplies to special programs that will counter learning loss and progress gaps resulting from the pandemic.  The New Castle Area School District is set to receive 18.1 million dollars.