COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to rise to near delta-variant surge levels. State health officials say there are more people hospitalized than at any time in the delta surge now in the state of Pennsylvania. The delta episode has continued through 19 weeks, by far the longest surge of the pandemic’s 19 months.   Pennsylvania overall has been setting hospitalization records for the past three days, up to just under 31-hundred  total patients on Sunday, including 734 in ICUs. Since Friday, 106 deaths have also been reported.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported nearly 52-hundred additional coronavirus cases on Tuesday. The seven-day moving average of newly reported cases was just over 61-hundred cases per day, down 19% from a week ago.   Pennsylvania’s rate is a bit over 3-hundred and 35 cases over the last seven days for each 100,000 residents. Those figures rank give the state the 18th highest ranking in the country.

State Troopers will be out in force in marked and unmarked patrol vehicles and marked motorcycles during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. They’re also asking for motorists’ help in keeping the roads safe by slowing down, buckling up and never driving impaired or distracted. State Police note the penalties for driving under the influence can include thousands of dollars in fines and court costs, a possible license suspension, prison time and increases in insurance rates.

Pennsylvania has regained about 70 percent of the more than one million jobs it lost in the pandemic. New state figures also show Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell in October for the eighth month in a row.   The figures, from the state Department of Labor and Industry,  show also that payrolls grew but those looking for work shrank as employers struggle to find workers. The unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 6 percent from September’s rate.  The national unemployment rate in October was four-point six percent.

The state House of Representatives has approved a measure designed to create stronger penalties for drivers who have several DUI convictions.  The bill calls for higher penalties for multi-offenders who have higher blood-alcohol content levels when they’re tested. It also aims to guarantee that fourth DUI offenders get their sentences raised to a second-degree felony level. The bill passed 168-32, and now passes to the state Senate for consideration. 

State Police in Beaver County report a one vehicle accident in Hopewell Township. According to police 63 year old Kenneth Kimmerle of Aliquippa was attempting to merge onto interstate 376 when he struck a guard rail. Kimmerle was not hurt.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report, Gas prices are one cent lower in Western Pennsylvania this week at $3.58 per gallon. In New Castle drivers are paying 3.53 a gallon, while motorists in Sharon are paying 3.49.  The national average is also down a penny at 3.40 a gallon. A year ago the average price in Western Pennsylvania was at 2.50 a gallon.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro asking the state supreme court to reinstate school mask order.  A Commonwealth Court struck it down earlier this month, saying the state Department of Health doesn’t have authority to require mask in schools, but Shapiro is challenging that decision saying the health of the state’s children is at stake. Many Republican leaders want the mask issue to be decided by individual school districts.

Cindy Chung is now settling into her new position as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  The Senate confirmed the Pittsburgh native’s nomination last week and she was sworn in during a ceremony yesterday.  Chung offered her thanks to both of the state’s U.S. Senators for their support of her nomination and pledged to work with law enforcement and others in the community to protect the public, pursue equal justice under the law, and serve the people of Western Pennsylvania.