HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s health secretary issued new standards Sunday for cleaning large buildings that remain open during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Dr. Rachel Levine’s order, which applies to buildings that are at least 50,000 square feet, requires building owners to maintain usual cleaning and follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to routinely clean and disinfect areas that are often touched.
The types of buildings covered by Levine’s order include warehouses, factories, offices, airports, grocery stores, government facilities, hotels, colleges and universities and residential buildings that have 50 units or more.
Building owners also must make sure there are enough workers to perform the cleaning properly and, if they have security, that they are sufficient to control access, keep order and enforce social distancing. The order takes effect early today.
New local, state cases
The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 1,493 new positive cases of COVID-19 Sunday, including four in Mercer County.
The statewide total is now 11,510 in 65 counties. Mercer County has reported 18 cases, according to the Health Department.
The department also reported 14 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 150. There have been no deaths reported in Mercer County.
In nearby counties, Lawrence has 23 cases and 2 deaths; Crawford 7 cases; Venango 3 cases; Erie 19 cases; Butler 87 cases and 2 deaths; and Allegheny 605 cases and 4 deaths.
Philadelphia County continues to be the hardest hit county with 3,135 cases and 28 deaths.
The Health Department said most deaths and most hospitalizations have been of patients 65 and older.
Pennsylvania officials have told residents to stay home unless they are getting food, groceries or medicine, seeking medical attention or getting outdoor exercise without coming in close contact with others. There are also exceptions for those whose jobs require their attendance and other circumstances. Non-life-sustaining businesses have been ordered closed, and schools have shut down statewide indefinitely.
Another death in Trumbull County
The seventh Trumbull County resident has died from COVID-19, the seventh victim in the Ohio county.
The Trumbull County Combined Health District reported the death Sunday morning in a news release. Citing privacy laws, the agency gave no details about the victim.
The agency reported 11 new cases of the virus making a total of 86 in the county. Ages ranged from 25 to 87 with 49 being hospitalized.
Mahoning County, Ohio, has 261 total cases and 15 deaths.
West Salem Townshiptax payment changes
West Salem Township tax collector Sandra J. Ohl will not hold in-person collection hours in the township building during April, based on township restrictions and CDC guidelines.
Payments may be mailed to West Salem Township Tax Collector, Box 217, Transfer, 16154. Those who need a receipt should enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Ohl can be reached at 724-718-7350.
PA CareerLink office closed
The PA CareerLink Mercer County location at 217 W. State St., Sharon, is closed until further notice in response to the Governor’s stay-at-home orders.
The PA CareerLink Mercer County staff will be available to provide services online to customers and employers.
Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment is cancelled for the month of April. This will not influence unemployment benefits, the agency said.
Law officials warn of COVID-19 frauds
PITTSBURGH – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division warn people to be alert for scams related to COVID-19 economic impact payments.
Suspected fraud may be reported to the Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force at 1-888-C19-WDPA or 1-888-219-9372 or email@example.com or the IRS-CI at PhiladelphiaFieldOffice@ci.irs.gov
U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady and Michael Montanez, acting special agent in charge of IRS-CI Philadelphia Field Office, offer these tips:
• The IRS will automatically deposit your economic impact payment into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
• The IRS will not contact you to request your banking information, ask you to confirm personal information, require you to pay a fee or ask you to send money before it issues your payment or to receive it faster.
• Scam emails ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics – related to refunds, filing status, ordering transcripts, and verifying PIN information – to steal your personal information or file tax returns. When people click on links from these emails, their computers can become infected with malware designed to steal their files or record their keystrokes. These emails are not from the IRS.
• Bogus stimulus checks are being reported. If you receive a check in the mail now, it’s fraud – it will take the Treasury Department a few weeks to distribute the payments. If you receive a check for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s fraud.
For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.