Tri County Report For August 13, 2021

Governor Tom Wolf is reaffirming his stance against issuing any COVID-19 vaccine or mask mandates in schools. Wolf says the decision rests with school districts, and he doesn’t think there is any need for the state to step into this. The governor then encouraged all eligible residents to get vaccinated and those who can’t to wear masks. Wolf added that a statewide mandate is not going to change behaviors if districts have already decided they want to do everything to keep kids safe.

Officials at Slippery Rock University say masks will be required at all indoor facilities. The decision follows Butler and Allegheny counties’ recent ranking of substantial levels of transmission of COVID-19.  Exceptions include when students are eating or drinking.  Campus officials say they cannot mandate vaccinations, but they are strongly encouraging students and staff to obtain their shots.

U.S. regulators on Thursday said transplant recipients and others with severely weakened immune systems can get an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to better protect them as the delta variant continues to surge. The late-night announcement by the Food and Drug Administration applies to several million Americans who are especially vulnerable because of organ transplants, certain cancers or other disorders.

The FBI has now charged a suspect in the robbery last weekend of a bank in Butler County.  Matthew Milliron, previously named as a suspect in the robbery of a discount store in Allegheny County, is now charged with holding up the Northwest Bank branch in Middlesex Township.  Prosecutors say that two hours after the robbery, Milliron called his landlord to let them know that he had his rent money.  Milliron is currently locked up in Allegheny County on unrelated charges.

A mobile home caught fire in Deer Creek Township in Mercer County Thursday morning. WFMJ-TV reports, The homeowner said they were eating breakfast when the house filled up with smoke. The homeowner was able to evacuate the house with no injuries, however the fire resulted in a total loss.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are having mixed reactions to the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that passed the Senate this week and is on its way to the House.  The bill would provide more than 23-billion dollars to Pennsylvania for infrastructure projects.  Democratic state Representative Bob Merski says the money would help with some major road and bridge projects without adding to the state’s tax burden.  But, Republican Congressman Mike Kelly calls it irresponsible spending that will pass on more debt to future generations.

Pennsylvania Department of Health is looking to get at least 80-percent of nursing home staff fully vaccinated from COVID-19 by October. Officials say currently, only about 12-point-five-percent of facilities have a vaccination rate of 80-percent or greater. Nursing home facilities have until October 1st to fully vaccinate at least 80-percent of their staff or they will be required to conduct frequent COVID testing. Officials say facilities that don’t comply with the testing requirements will be met with appropriate regulatory action.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Yesterday, the state added more than two-thousand new cases to the total, pushing it over one-million-243-thousand. About 16 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 27-thousand-941.

Giant Eagle customers now have two additional ways to pay when they check out with their groceries.  The supermarket chain announced Thursday that customers can now use the PayPal and Venmo apps to pay for their orders.  Giant Eagle is the first grocery chain in the country to accept the apps as a payment method.  Customers can also use PayPal or Venmo to pay for purchases at the grocer’s GetGo convenience stores.

The U.S. Department of Transportation this week has awarded a two-point-three-million dollar grant to the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe.  The money is intended to help the airport cover the costs of COVID mitigation efforts.  It is expected that the funds will offset increased expenses incurred by the airport for staffing, cleaning and janitorial services.