Aqua advises businesses to flush water lines before reopening

APA sign company worker hangs a banner on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Tuesday thanking frontline and essential workers who continue to do their jobs during the pandemic.

Aqua Pennsylvania advised businesses that have been under extended closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic to thoroughly flush their internal plumbing before reopening.

Water left sitting in closed buildings over an extended time in unused pipes for equipment like ice machines can become stagnant and produce bad tastes or odors, said Marc Lucca, Aqua Pennsylvania’s president.

“Extended periods of inactivity can degrade water quality that in some cases may cause metals, such as lead, to leach as well as bacteria growth like legionella growth,’’ Lucca said. “It is important that customers take proper steps to alleviate these potential issues.”

Businesses and residents should flush all cold water lines first followed by the hot water lines, he said. The flushing should include all water receptacles, including bathtubs, showers toilet fixtures. Industrial water faucets, including eye washes and fire sprinkler systems, should be checked and could require maintenance.

Faucets and showers should be allowed to run for 10 minutes, with cold taps running first followed by hot taps.

Aqua’s Shenango Division serves 84,000 customers in Mercer, Lawrence, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Forest, McKean, Venango and Warren counties. The utility also provides water service to Masury in Ohio.

Health Department reports 75 new Pa. fatalities

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed 837 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 57,991.

The state is reporting an increase of 75 new deaths today, bringing the statewide total to 3,806 deaths in Pennsylvania.

The Health Department reported an additional two cases in Mercer County, bringing the county’s total to 77. After remaining almost flat for a 12-day span, from 64 cases on April 24 to 68 on May 6, the county has increased by nine cases, and one fatality, in the ensuing six days.

Statewide, there have been 237,989 negative tests for the virus. Mercer County residents have had 957 negative tests.

Like your drivers's license photo? Well, you’re stuck with it

The PennDOT announced it will start using existing photos on file for customers who renew their driver’s license and identification card.

“Using a customer’s existing photo will help limit the number of people in our driver and photo license centers, and by extension, help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19,” said Acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “This new process is not only a convenience, but it will help to keep our customers and staff safe.”

All customers who renew their driver’s license or photo ID card online or through the mail will receive a new product using the most recent photo of that individual that exists in PennDOT’s system. No camera cards will be issued to these customers, and they will receive their new product by mail within 15 days. The renewal process is complete when the final product is received.

Non-commercial driver’s license and photo ID card holders may renew their product online, providing there are no corrections or changes other than a change of address, by visiting Both non-commercial and commercial drivers may renew their products through the mail.

Individuals who renewed before May 10 will receive a camera card in the mail and will need to visit a PennDOT Photo License Center to get an updated photo. Non-U.S. citizens must also visit a driver’s license center in person to complete a transaction. The Mercer license center is among those that have reopened.

Expiration dates on driver’s licenses, photo ID cards, learner’s permits and camera cards scheduled to expire from March 16 through May 31, 2020, have been extended until June 30, 2020.

Driver and vehicle online services are available around the clock at

Pennsylvania National Guardsmen hit by virus

The Pennsylvania National Guard says some personnel are sick with COVID-19, including those who contracted the virus that causes the disease while deployed.

Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Keith Hickox said his agency has helped 13 long-term care facilities in response to the pandemic.

It’s nearly impossible to know how the Guard troops became sick, he said, describing the total number as relatively low, considering what they have been doing.

Hickox said that medical staffers have helped out at nine facilities and that training has been done at five of them. The Guard is not disclosing the list of nursing homes and similar places they have been assisting.

The effort has involved more than 180 medical workers, mostly helping with comparatively less sick residents, so the facilities’ own medical staff can focus where patients need it the most.

Others with the Guard are providing logistical help, cleaning, and training of facility staffers in the use of personal protective gear and decontamination, Hickox said.

All members are quarantined and tested when high-risk missions are completed, he said.

Trump to visit Pa. medical products manufacturer

President Donald Trump will visit the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Thursday to tour a distribution center of medical and surgical products for healthcare facilities, including personal protective equipment in the fight against the coronavirus.

Trump’s visit is to a warehouse of Virginia-based Owens and Minor in suburban Allentown.

It is Trump’s second visit to Pennsylvania this year.

Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes are perhaps this year’s premier electoral prize state after Trump’s unexpected win in Pennsylvania in 2016 helped pave his way to the White House.

Trump did particularly well in the Allentown area, a politically moderate area where Trump flipped nearby Northampton County into his win column.

The Republican president made five visits to Pennsylvania last year, including two to western Pennsylvania where he talked up the region’s booming natural gas industry.

Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by about 44,000 votes, or less than 1 percentage point.

In acking Trump, Pennsylvania went Republican in a presidential contest for the first time since 1988 as part of the Democratic Party’s “blue wall” of industrial states that Trump flipped, along with Michigan and Wisconsin.