PITTSBURGH — Cases of the novel coronavirus in Pennsylvania have surpassed 260. Furthering steps to help limit the virus’ spread, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in the state to close their physical locations. Keep checking back for the latest COVID-19 updates throughout the day.
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- TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates March 19
UPDATE 9:45 p.m.: The list of businesses deemed by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration as ‘life-sustaining’ has been updated. Two big changes are that coal mining and laundry services will be allowed to continue to operate during this coronavirus shutdown.
UPDATE 9 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf announced the enforcement of businesses failing to adhere to his shutdown order is being pushed back.
Instead of “non-life-sustaining” businesses being disciplined for staying open starting 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the enforcement of that order will become effective Monday at 8 a.m.
Officials cited a “high volume of waiver requests” as the reason for the delay in enforcing the shutdown order, which said any businesses that aren’t life-essential had to close their physical locations Thursday night.
UPDATE 8:50 p.m.: You will soon be able to get tested for the novel coronavirus at the Pittsburgh Zoo parking lot.
Starting March 23, the Central Outreach Wellness Center will be using the zoo’s main parking lot for drive-thru COVID-19 testing.
That is located at 7370 Baker Street in Pittsburgh.
According to a release, everyone is asked to bring a photo ID and insurance card. However, officials said they will not turn anyone away who doesn’t have insurance.
You also do not need a referral or prescription to receive testing.
Although, officials said if you don’t have any of the main coronavirus symptoms (dry cough/fever/shortness of breath) you are asked to stay home to keep from getting infected.
UPDATE 7:23 p.m.: Heritage Valley Health System is implementing a no visitation policy at its three hosptials: Heritage Valley Sewickley, Heritage Valley Beaver and Heritage Valley Kennedy.
Officials said this is to further protect patients and staff during the coronavirus outbreak.
UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: Bishop David Zubik announced some new changes regarding not eating meat on Fridays and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, among others.
Priests can hear confession in church parking lots, helping cut down on in-person exposure to the coronavirus.
Additionally, Catholics do not have to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, with the exception of Good Friday.
“As you are aware, many of the shelves and cases in our supermarkets are sparse, if not empty. This is a time when pastoral necessity has informed my decision effective today,” Bishop Zubik said.
UPDATE 6:10 p.m.: City firefighters are now feeling a little easier thanks in part to now being able to access health information related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Target 11 told you about fire crews raising concerns that privacy laws were not letting them know critical health information of the people they were helping. That’s now changed, with local patients being provided to emergency officials.
Watch more in the video below:
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Norwin school officials said they do not have anyone in the district who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Originally, emergency officials said there was a confirmed case in North Huntington Township. But it was later determined that was not the case.
UPDATE 5:20 p.m.: UPMC officials gave an update Friday on their own coroanvirus testing as they continue monitoring the outbreak locally.
Doctors said they are not seeing widespread community spread of the virus, but that doesn’t mean people can let their guard down.
Watch more in the video below:
UPDATE 5:00 p.m.: PIttsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto remains in self-quarantine after coming into someone possible infected with coronavirus at a conference in Washington D.C.
Public Safety DIrector Wendell Hissrich addressed the Mayor’s condition at a news conference Friday.
“He’s doing well. I know he’s taking his temperature at the recommendation of the medical personnel and hopefully in a short period of time the potential for him catching the virus will be gone,” Hissrich said.
Watch more in the video below:
UPDATE 4:15 p.m.: Carnegie Mellon University officials announced Friday that a student is confirmed to have the coronavirus in Pittsburgh and is in self-isolation off campus.
Additionally, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has extended the closure of their facilities due to the coronavirus and Gov. Wolf’s order.
The Parks Conservancy facility closures include the Frick Environmental Center (2005 Beechwood Blvd.), Parks Conservancy South Side offices (45 S. 23rd St.), Schenley Plaza maintenance building (4100 Forbes Ave.), Schenley Park Café and Visitor Center (101 Panther Hollow Rd.), and the horticultural and forestry facility (1 English Lane).
In addition, the Parks Conservancy has postponed all programming and special events through May 10, 2020. The Conservancy is working to reschedule most postponed events.
UPDATE 4:05 p.m.: A Sheriff’s Deputy tested negative for the coronavirus after going to work on Wednesday and telling their superiors there was a concern they may have been exposed. 15 deputies were relieved of duty with pay and were ordered to stay in isolation out of an abundance of caution. Those deputies will return to work on Monday.
UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: Allegheny County officials announced further changes to a number of agencies and departments due to the coronavirus outbreak:
Every government has the responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its residents. Particularly during times of emergency, residents rely even more on the services offered and performed by county employees. The county also has a part to play in helping to slow the spread of the disease. As a result, working with all departments, changes have been implemented for many of our operations while still continuing to provide the integral services that residents rely upon. Individuals who have business with the county are also encouraged to utilize online services and other resources to limit interaction with the general public.
As with all changes made as a result of this pandemic, these changes will continue to be reviewed and make additional adjustments as necessary. County administration will also continue to review its continuity of operations plans (COOP) as it relates to impact of COVID-19 on the county’s workforce.
The Immunization Clinic will close until further notice starting Monday, March 23, 2020. The clinic is open today until 4 p.m. Please call ahead before coming into the clinic: 412-578-8062.
ACHD will not be performing Tuberculosis skin tests at its Pulmonary Center until further notice. For guidance, please call 412-578-8162.
All ACHD Pediatric Dental Clinics will be closed through March 30, 2020. Staff will be on hand to answer patient questions and to direct emergencies to the nearest pediatric dental facility. To speak with a representative, please call 412-687-2243.
Air Quality (Health Department)
Air quality complaints will continue to be processed. All planning and permitting meetings will be scheduled by phone. The monitoring network will be maintained as best as possible based on the availability of access to buildings that house air quality monitors. Asbestos staff will continue to process permits and conduct inspections by remote dispatching.
The Air Advisory Committee and its three subcommittee meetings have been cancelled, and all scheduled public hearings will be postponed. To submit an air quality complaint, click here, or call 412-578-8103.
Food Safety (Health Department)
As widely reported, all restaurants and bars in the state were ordered to close their dine-in services for at least 14 days. However, these businesses are allowed to offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through services during this time. Whether you are offering these services or preparing to reopen once permitted to, restaurant owners should be following these very important tips from ACHD: http://bit.ly/2U1ZGUz
The Food Safety Program will remain coverage to respond to questions from the public, and food facilities regarding their operations. Construction plans already submitted will continue to be reviewed. Previously scheduled appointments will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. All Food Manager Certification testing and seminars have been canceled through March 31, 2020.
Please call 412-578-8044 or email ACHDFood@AlleghenyCounty.us to discuss appointment status.
Housing and Community Environment (Health Department)
The Housing and Community Environment (HCE) program will be maintaining services solely for facilities with emergency complaints: no heat, no water, no electric, or sewage backup. The program will not be accepting any housing or facility complaints that are non-emergency. HCE will perform in-person inspections when necessary.
To submit a complaint, call 412-350-4046 or you can utilize the online form.
Inmate Phone Calls (County Jail)
With the exception of the temporary suspension of social and professional visits, inmates have had little change to their daily routines. Presently, there are no restrictions for out-of-cell time due to COVID-19 concerns. In order to mitigate the effects of no outside contact, inmates are being allowed one free daily five-minute phone call. When further changes are made to the system, that availability may also expand.
Inmate Releases (Multiple Offices)
Staff in Criminal Court Administration, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office are continually reviewing cases to determine which inmates are appropriate for release. Those cases are then addressed in Motions Court or reviewed with the assigned Judge depending on the circumstances. This review is not limited to just those inmates with health problems, although those cases are being considered first. The Public Defender’s Office is working to identify all non-violent inmates held only on cash bails.
On a daily basis, inmate releases are being sent to the jail and those releases are being processed as they are received. Releases are being done following the sae process related to discharge and release as is done traditionally. This includes ensuring that inmates being released have access to a free phone call, free bus ticket, free Intranasal Narcan (Naloxone HCL) upon affirmative response at time of offer, packet of requested community resource information, letter of Incarceration Verification (upon request), and inmates are also encouraged to take a flyer or business card to reach the Discharge & Release Center for assistance with future needs.
This is an ongoing collaborative effort which includes the Judges, Court Administration, the Allegheny County Jail, the Public Defender, the District Attorney’s Office, Adult Probation, Pretrial Services, and the Private Bar. Emergency petitions can also be filed and are addressed by the court in Motions Court.
Plumbing (Health Department)
The Plumbing program is open for operations during its normal business hours, 8am – 4pm. When you are calling for plumbing inspections, please contact the correct inspector for your area and leave a voicemail with your name, permit number, type of inspection and a call back number. The plumbing inspector will call you back by 9 a.m. to confirm the appointment.
Both journeyman and master plumbers can pay for their licenses online and are encouraged to utilize the online system, which can be accessed here. You can call the program at: 412-578-8036.
Allegheny County Veterans Services has temporarily relocated to 202 County Courthouse (436 Grant Street). The office can be reached by phone at 412-621-4357. Veterans can also email the staff at email@example.com.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) (Health Department)
The WIC program is moving to a modified operating schedule through March 30, 2020. The following WIC office locations will be open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.:
· Mt. Oliver
· Downtown Pittsburgh
ACHD’s Springdale WIC office will be open for benefit pickup Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. through March 30, 2020.
If you are coming to an appointment, please:
• Contact WIC staff ahead of time to schedule your benefit pick up
• Leave your children at home to reduce their risk of exposure
• Stay at home if you are feeling sick. A proxy may be added over the phone to pick up benefits.
All other WIC offices will be closed during this time; however, WIC staff will be able to provide consultation over the phone. Please contact your local WIC clinic for questions regarding your appointment. If you have any additional questions call 412-350-5801 or see our website for more details.
The following announcements are related to offices that are not under the authority of the executive branch, but are being provided as a courtesy:
County Council will be holding regular meetings as scheduled. Members are being encouraged to call-in and the public is also encouraged to watch the live-stream and to submit public comment online. To adhere to the CDC guidelines, the total capacity of the room will be limited to 10 to ensure social distancing. The next meeting of Council is Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 5 PM.
To submit comments through the online sign-up form, please visit:
To submit comments via email, please email:
To watch the live-stream, please visit:
UPDATE 2:49 p.m.: A Pittsburgh Langley staff member has tested positive for coronavirus, according to officials with Pittsburgh Public Schools. The school has been closed as a Grab and Go lunch location.
A release was sent home to staff and families:
Good afternoon PPS Families and Staff,
This is the Pittsburgh Public Schools with an important Alert regarding COVID-19. Today, the district was notified that a Pittsburgh Langley staff member tested positive for COVID-19. While the staff member is assigned to Pittsburgh Langley, out of an abundance of caution we are communicating this information to all district staff and families.
As a reminder, the symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you or a member of your family experience any of the symptoms, we encourage you to please follow up with your primary care physician. Per our Governor, it is essential that we all continue to practice social distancing and limit engagement to ten people or less.
We know that many of you may have questions and want additional details. However, to protect the confidentiality of this individual, this is all of the information we have to share at this time.
UPDATE 2:02 p.m.: Monongahela Valley Hospital is suspending visiting hours for all units until further notice. Hospital officials said the new policy goes into effect at 7 p.m. tonight and it will help protect patients, visitors and employees. Exceptions will be made for end-of-life care situations.
UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: Administrators with Westminster College announced Friday they will waive the SAT/ACT requirements for fall 2020 admission consideration due to the closing of many testing sites because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Students are encouraged to submit test scores if they have them, but students without scores will still be considered.
The groups that administer both the SAT and ACT tests announced on March 16 that the next nationwide examinations will be postponed or canceled. The April 4 ACT test has been rescheduled for June 13 while the May 2 SAT has been canceled.
UPDATE 12:27 p.m.: The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is recommending health professionals use telemedicine for Medicaide-enrolled providers to help limit exposure to the coronavirus.
UPDATE (12:05 p.m.): There have been 83 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Pennsylvania, bringing the total number to 268, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
In western Pennsylvania, there are currently 28 cases in Allegheny County, four in Westmoreland County, three in Beaver County and three in Washington County.
“Our notable increase in cases over the last few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”
One person in Pennsylvania has died from the coronavirus.
There are 2,574 patients who have tested negative, according to the Health Department.
UPDATE (11:40 a.m.): UPMC experts spoke about coronavirus testing, research and preparedness Friday morning.
Across the UPMC system, 28 symptomatic patients have tested positive for COVID-19, with four of them hospitalized as of 11 a.m. Friday, Dr. Graham Snyder said.
Dr. John Williams said there is not yet widespread community transmission of the coronavirus, and there’s no evidence that Pittsburgh is becoming a center or cluster of activity.
“That doesn’t mean anyone should let down that guard. The virus is readily transmitted and it’s still an important public health threat,” Williams said. “The lack of widespread activity means this is the best time to keep up the social distancing that we’re practicing to have the greatest impact on the spread and to flatten the curve of the pandemic.”
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UPMC has over 5,500 hospital beds set up and staffed, including 750 ICU beds, Snyder said.
So far, coronavirus cases have had a minimum impact on patient care at UPMC facilities, according to Snyder.
UPMC is able to test 80 specimens a day through its central lab, Snyder said. That’s expected to double by next week.
“Our turnaround time has been within one calendar day, with most patients getting results run by our lab in eight to 12 hours,” Snyder said.
CLICK HERE for the UPMC news conference or watch below.
UPDATE (11:35 a.m.): Giant Eagle is working with businesses in the area to help people whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Primanti Bros. are part of the partnership that looks to temporarily hire arena and restaurant workers who are temporarily out of a job.
“Supermarkets, pharmacies and fuel stations are critical community resources right now,” said Giant Eagle Inc. President and CEO Laura Shapira Karet.
You can learn more about the jobs that are available HERE.
UPDATE (11:00 a.m.): The Allegheny County Health Department today announced that there are now 27 positive cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny County.
Of those, five individuals are hospitalized with the remainder in self-isolation at home.
This brings the total number of cases in our area to 34, with 27 cases in Allegheny County, three cases in Washington County, two cases in Beaver County and two cases in Westmoreland County.
UPDATE 10 a.m.: Officials in Fayette County report the county’s Emergency Management Agency has been working at full staff since early March in response to the coronavirus outberak.
County leaders said they are working to make sure police, fire and EMS organizations in smaller areas are able to buy masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.
“We are working closely with the Office of the Governor, Department of Health, our Board of Commissioners, local hospitals and emergency responders to get the citizens of Fayette County through this trying time” said Roy Shipley, Jr EMA Director.
UPDATE (9:05 a.m.): Pittsburgh Public Schools says it alerted families at four of the district’s schools of a potential indirect coronavirus exposure to three students and one staff member.
A district spokesperson said the students were completing their vocational education program off-site at a community organization, and the staff member assigned to Pittsburgh Oliver Citywide Academy had contact with the students before the closure of schools.
Families at the following schools were alerted: Pittsburgh Brashear High School, Pittsburgh Carrick High School, Pittsburgh Oliver Citywide Academy and Pittsburgh South Hills.
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The indirect exposure to the confirmed case of COVID-19 happened before schools were closed, the spokesperson said.
Because of the possible exposure, the Grab and Go site located at Pittsburgh Oliver Citywide Academy has been discontinued. Pittsburgh Brashear and Pittsburgh South Hills are scheduled for deep cleaning, and Pittsburgh Carrick has already been deep cleaned, officials said.
UPDATE (5:45 a.m.): State and federal investigators are fighting back against criminals who are using the coronavirus to try to take advantage of people.
The Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force was announced by U.S. Attorney Scott Brady and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
UPDATE (4:30 a.m.): Gov. Tom Wolf referred to COVID-19 is an “invisible danger” when he announced he was ordering all non-life-sustaining businesses to close Thursday, with enforcement actions set to start at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Business owners that don’t comply could be cited, fined and have their licenses suspended.