State Police in Lawrence County are investigating a traffic accident in Mahoning Township. According to police the driver of a vehicle was eastbound on route 422 when they lost control and struck a vehicle operated by 35 year old Darrell Frazier of New Castle. The driver fled the scene of the accident. No injuries were reported.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday reported 15-thousand-744 new COVID cases across the Keystone State. The state has nearly 2.5 million cases since the pandemic started. Lawrence County has 16,940 cases and 357 deaths. Mercer County has 21,091 and 446 fatalities.

Legislators and attorneys general in multiple states – including Pennsylvania, have said they will be investigating and introducing regulatory bills overseeing pop-up COVID testing sites. The rise in unlicensed pop-up testing sites is the latest example of COVID-19-related fraud that regulators say they’ve struggled to overcome throughout the pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission says it has received over 650-thousand reports of COVID-related fraud, identity theft and other scams.

As he begins his last year in office, the tally for the number of bills that Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed is now more than 50. Legislative experts say that’s a number that illustrates the institutionalized gridlock between the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled General Assembly. They also say Wolf’s veto tally will likely expand during his final 13 months in office. Republican legislators have increasingly turned to constitutional amendments to advance their priorities.

The PA Department of Drug and Alcohol program is working to improve its treatment efforts focusing on substance abuse and adolescents. DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith says the department has started planning through a work group to address adolescent services, whether they involve crisis intervention, prevention or inpatient and outpatient treatment. Smith says adolescents are struggling to find counselors in some parts of the state because their caseloads are overwhelming.

Across western Pennsylvania, 9-1-1 call centers are often managing emergencies with much smaller staffs than usual.  In Beaver County, Emergency Services is working with a deficit of five workers and staffers sometimes have to work 16-hours to be able to cover the 24-hour days.  County officials say fewer staffers handling phone calls has also led to longer wait times for answering phones. 

State and local health officials are reminding residents to get their COVID-19 booster shots if it has been six months since their last vaccine shot.  Pennsylvania’s acting Health Secretary — Keara Klinepeter — says although 75 percent of eligible adults in the state are fully vaccinated, only 33 percent have received a booster shot. 

With the demand for at-home COVID testing kits rising around the country, the federal government is preparing to launch a program to provide more than 500-million free kits to Americans that want them.  Beginning tomorrow, the Biden administration says that folks will be able to visit and order as many as four tests per household.  The cost of shipping will be included.  A phone line will later be set up to assist folks without internet access. 

Health experts have a message for folks trying to dig themselves out from under this week’s snow.  Be careful.  Doctors say they see an increase in patients presenting with injuries, illnesses and even heart attacks after those folks overexert themselves by shoveling snow or spending too much time out in the cold.  They say the individuals that most often have problems are people over the age of 55 and those with underlying conditions like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.