TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR APRIL 15TH, 2021

More doses of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are on their way to Pennsylvania next week. This comes after the state decided to follow the CDC’s suggestion to pause the administration of all Johnson and Johnson vaccines while officials investigate six rare cases of blood clots possibly associated with it. The incoming allotments are the second largest from each provider so far, as about 26-thousand more doses than the state received last week are expected.

Despite pleas from state education officials to the U.S. Department of Education to waive testing requirements this school year, statewide testing is resuming. This poses a problem as not every district in the state has returned to in-person learning. As of now, the U.S. Department of Education recommends that states extend the testing window, administer the federally required exams remotely or shorten the state assessment.  The state Department of Education is planning to allow districts to delay the PSSA and Keystone exams to the fall.

State officials are considering bringing back some requirements for unemployment benefits. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but officials are thinking about reinstating the work search requirement for unemployment claimants, which has been suspended due to the pandemic. It could be brought back in June when the new unemployment compensation system launches. Officials are also considering having unemployment claimants register for a website that connects them to employers in September.

State Police in Beaver County are investigating a two vehicle accident in Center Township. Police said the accident took place on Interstate 376 near the Monaca Exit. One of the drivers, a 24 year old female from Pittsburgh was taken into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence. During transport the woman had a suspected seizure and was taken to Beaver Valley Medical Center. Police are still looking for the other driver in the accident.

The entire Pine-Richland High School football coaching staff will not be returning next season after an investigation into locker room misconduct.  School officials sent an email to head coach Eric Kasperowicz (CASS-PEAR-OH-WITZ) yesterday, telling him they would be advertising his position.  Several current and former players say they were recently interviewed about allegations of locker room hazing.  Kasperowicz led the high school football team to four W-P-I-A-L titles and two state championships.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of more than 57-hundred new cases, pushing it over one-million-87-thousand. About 50 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 25-thousand-522. Lawrence County has 6,946 cases and 199 deaths. Mercer County has 8,810 cases and 250 fatalities.

A Latrobe man convicted Wednesday of attempted rape is facing a maximum of 50 years in prison.  A jury in Westmoreland County took one hour to find Luke Hoover guilty of attempted rape, aggravated assault, strangulation and simple assault in a 2017 case involving a Saint Vincent College student.  At the time of the incident, Hoover was living in a home for juvenile sex offenders but was out on a home pass.  Sentencing is expected to take place this summer.

Pennsylvanians who get veteran’s benefits are expected to receive Economic Impact Payments of up to 14-hundred-dollars starting this week. Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright says veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension benefit payments and who do not normally file a tax return can expect this money. Most payments are automatic, and those waiting on checks through the mail can expect them within the next several days.

Pennsylvania’s Departments of Health and Education are urging all state college and university students to get vaccinated from COVID-19 before the summer. Officials say the vaccine will allow postsecondary institutions to provide more in-person learning and improve the safety of our campus communities for our students, faculty and staff. They added that students do not have to be state residents to get vaccinated. State colleges and universities will be working with providers to offer vaccination opportunities for its students.