Gov. Tom Wolf has extended his order for residents to stay at home in most circumstances to almost one-third of Pennsylvania’s counties amid an increase in coronavirus cases and a dozen more deaths that brought the total to 34 for the outbreak.
The governor on Saturday extended the order to Beaver, Centre and Washington Counties, making a total of 22 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties included. The order already covered three-fourths of the state’s 12.8 million residents.
“We’re seeing this virus begin to rear its ugly head in every corner of our commonwealth,” Wolf said Saturday.
The order restricts movement to certain health or safety-related travel, or travel to a job at an employer designated by Wolf’s administration as “life-sustaining.” The measures are designed to slow the spread of the virus and give the state’s hospitals time to increase staffing, equipment and bed space.
Mercer County cases hold at 6 diagnosed
As of noon Sunday, the Pennsylvania Department of Heath reported that the number of cases of COVID-19 diagnosed so far in Mercer County still stands at six, with no deaths.
Statewide, there have been 34 deaths, 2,751 people testing positive and 25,254 testing native, with 316 people hospitalized since March 6.
How positive cases and hospitalizations break down by age in Pa:
AGE RANGE | % of CASES | HOSPITALIZED
0-4 < 1% 1%
5-12 < 1% 0%
13-18 1% 1%
19-24 11% 2%
25-49 39% 20%
50-64 28% 27%
65+ 19% 49%
Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding
April 8 county court hearings postponed
MERCER – Defendants scheduled for hearings April 8 in Mercer County Common Pleas Court will not appear in person at the county courthouse.
County President Judge Robert G. Yeatts ordered that those hearings be rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 6.
Defense attorneys are responsible for notifying their clients of the continuance.
The order says attorneys may appear by teleconference provided they have coordinated the appearance with opposing counsel.
1st death recorded in Lawrence County
NEW CASTLE – Lawrence County Coroner Rich. “R.J.” Johnson said Saturday that a man died from the virus Friday night at UPMC Jameson Hospital. Johnson said he was notified of the death by the hospital.
No further information was immediately available.
The county now has 8 cases, twice what it had the day before.
Meanwhile, a team of state and Lawrence County officials intends to ask the governor to consider inventorying the now-closed Ellwood City Hospital and using it as a source of medical supplies, protection equipment and ventilators.
The Americore-owned hospital, located on Pershing Street in Ellwood City borough, was shut down by the state Department of Health on Jan. 31, and its owner is in bankruptcy court.
4 new cases reported in Trumbull County
TRUMBULL COUNTY, Ohio – The Trumbull County Combined Health District reported that there are four new COVID-19 virus cases for a total of 28.
The numbers include 13 men and 15 females ranging in age from 25 to 86. Eighteen have been hospitalized and there were two deaths.
TCCHD also reported that 45 people are in quarantine and being monitored; 22 have successfully completed their quarantines and were released.
PennDOT registration, license extensions
HARRISBURG – PennDOT is extending the expiration dates on various licenses and registrations:
• Licenses, photo ID cards, learner’s permits, registrations, inspection and handicapped placards that expire between March 16 and April 30 are extended through May 31. These are in addition to extensions of older items previously announced.
• All driver’s license centers are closed until further notice.
• Many services such as license and registration renewals may be completed online anytime at www.dmv.pa.gov. There are no additional fees for using online services.
State licensing rules eased to increase caregivers
HARRISBURG – The governor’s office has announced measures aimed at allowing retired medical personnel and out-of-state practitioners to help care for patients amid the coronavirus outbreak, and temporarily lifting regulations to allow more people to provide care.
“We’re now allowing any licensed health care professional to provide services over telemedicine,” Wolf said. “This will help us provide existing standards of care to many patients without having them leave the safety of their homes.”
The state was also allowing some licensees to complete continuing education online or through distance leaning, he said.
The measures include streamlining reactivation of licenses for retired doctors, nurses and others, lifting requirements that registered nurses practice within a specialty, and extending license deadlines, temporary nursing permits and graduate permits.
Troubled hospital gets state funding to stay open
EASTON, Pa. – The owner of an eastern Pennsylvania hospital has announced a deal with the state to keep the facility open and operating for at least the next four weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Steward Health Care, owner of Easton Hospital, had sought $40 million from the state, citing “dire” financial problems. Steward said it had told state health officials in January that the hospital would either be sold to St. Luke’s University Health Network by April 21 or close.
The company would return any state funds that exceed the hospital’s operating expenses at the end of four weeks, he said.
Steward said cancellation of elective surgeries and the associated revenue had pushed Easton Hospital’s finances to the brink.
Emergency food distribution approved
HARRISBURG – State officials say the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved waiver requirements sought for disaster food distribution in Pennsylvania for those affected by efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
The governor’s office says the state agriculture department late Friday received approval to use U.S. Department of Agriculture foods as part of a disaster distribution program run through the state’s network of food banks, food pantries, and pop-up distribution sites.
The governor had sought a temporary waiver on the need to verify household eligibility and waivers of other requirements by the federal department.
Officials say that will mean more efficient distribution of a variety of foods.