TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2021

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Yesterday, the state added over three-thousand new cases to the state total, pushing it over one-million-350-thousand. Two new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 28-thousand-568.

The PIAA may recommend that student athletes get vaccinated for Covid-19. The committee is expected to vote on the issue. It would apply to all students, coaches and athletic personnel. The PIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommended the vaccinations.

Governor Tom Wolf is recalling his nomination for the state’s next secretary of the Department of State. Wolf says based on the Senate Republican majority’s pursuit of an investigation into baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 Election, it’s clear that Veronica Degraffenreid will not get a fair hearing from the Senate. Degraffenreid will continue to serve as the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth as not being confirmed by the Senate doesn’t impact her ability to do her job.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report prices are down two cents this week in Western Pennsylvania to 3.34 a gallon. In New Castle drivers are paying 3.25 a gallon while motorists in Sharon are paying 3.31. The national gas price average dropped by a penny on the week to $3.17.  . However, the recovery from Hurricane Ida remains slow, with the latest U.S. data showing just under half of the U.S. offshore oil production in the Gulf still idle after companies shuttered production ahead of the storm.

Officials with the Butler Area School District say they have over 85 active cases of COVID-19.  The District reported the numbers yesterday, saying they fall across student body members, faculty, and staff.  According to a District online COVID-19 dashboard, there are 34 cases at the senior high, 22 at the intermediate school, seven at the middle school, and 23 at the elementary schools.  Superintendent Brian White said some students refuse to comply with the state’s mask mandate and are being reported to the Health Department. 

Online retail giant Amazon is looking to fill hundreds of positions in the Pittsburgh area as it expands operations.  Officials plan to announce today how many jobs they will be bringing to the area in the pay range of 17 to 18-dollars with health care and dental benefits.  The company has plans to build a warehouse on the site of the former Westinghouse Technology and Research Park in Churchill.  Amazon recently opened a facility in Imperial last week and has invested over one-billion-dollars in the region.  

A court hearing for the lawsuit against the governor’s mask mandate for schools is being postponed. The lawsuit was filed by the state Senate’s top Republican and a group of parents to overturn the school mask mandate. A hearing was set for September 16th, but the commonwealth court is asking for the group to file a brief on why the mandate is illegal. Then, the Wolf Administration will have until September 23rd to file a response and then a new hearing date will be set.

Health care workers are urging state lawmakers to take action as a waiver that allows out-of-state nurses to get temporary licenses in Pennsylvania is expiring. Officials with the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association say this COVID-19 waiver has helped hospitals deal with their staffing shortages, and if action isn’t taken by the end of this month, things could get worse. They added that nurses are already burnt out, and they’re getting reports of people leaving mid-shift because they had enough. Lawmakers acknowledged the issue during a House hearing yesterday and say they must look into continuing the waiver.

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association is taking legal action against the governor for his proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all state employees. Officials say the state Department of Corrections is not implementing strict COVID measures as the delta variant spreads, and the PSCOA made multiple requests to get its members to be made a priority for the vaccine. As of a result of them not being prioritized, over 37-hundred of their members tested positive for COVID. Officials added that Corrections employees should have been prioritized, given their work conditions, but instead smokers were given priority while members spent months trying to get the vaccine on their own.