TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates May 11

PITTSBURGH — Channel 11 News is committed to keeping you informed about the coronavirus, the impact on our community and your lives. Below you’ll find all of today’s updates, including the latest numbers and information from local and state officials.

We’re also covering positive stories in our communities. You can find the most recent ones HERE.

Have questions about the spread of the coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.


Businesses that were planning to reopen are now rethinking their plans

UPDATE 11 p.m.: Businesses gearing up to reopen tomorrow, even in a red Beaver County, are now rethinking their plans.

This comes after Gov. Tom Wolf threatened to pull funding, licenses and insurance from counties and businesses who fail to comply with his orders.

Countless business owners told us their plans to reopen this week have been sidelined.

Hear more from local business owners in the video below:


Pa. Secretary of Education expects schools to resume normally this fall

UPDATE 7:50 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf’s education secretary told lawmakers on Monday that he expects students to go back to school in the fall, and the Department of Education will provide guidance in the coming weeks to prepare teachers and staff to return to school buildings.

Schools have been closed since March under Wolf’s orders to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, keeping more than 1.7 million public school children home and exposing big differences in the ability of wealthier and poorer districts to educate children online.

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, testifying in a Senate committee hearing, acknowledged that schools will need additional aid to respond to various challenges posed by school closures and the need to contain the virus.

Click here to read more from Sec. Rivera.


Washington Co. Commissioner responds to Gov. Wolf’s comments

UPDATE 5:02 p.m.: “I never thought i would witness the governor of Pennsylvania get on and threaten the people and his constituents, if you don’t tow the line and do what I’m telling you to do absent the law and legislative process, I’m going to come in and take the CARES Act from you,” said Washington County Commissioner Nick Sherman.

Sherman joined other local county commissioners in a lawsuit against Gov. Wolf and spoke out in response to today’s annoucement.

“I think there is a balance here. I’m frankly confused speaking to the same epidemiologist and the same CEO’s of hospitals that he is speak to, and he is labeling us as if we don’t care and trying to put people in harm’s way,” Sherman said.


New rules for child care providers for yellow counties

UPDATE 4:24 p.m.: Gov. Wolf issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state on April 1. However, the order allowed a waiver process for child care centers for families of essential workers. As of May 5, 1,529 child care providers continue to operate. This includes 626 child care centers and 903 group and family child care homes.

When a county moves into the yellow phase, all child care providers are allowed to reopen without a waiver and they must adhere to CDC guidelines. The CDC recommends:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Remember to supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Cover cough and sneezes.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
  • Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under age two because of the danger of suffocation.

Require sick children and staff to stay home.

  • Communicate to parents the importance of keeping children home when they are sick.
  • Communicate to staff the importance of being vigilant for symptoms and staying in touch with facility management if or when they start to feel sick.
  • Establish procedures to ensure children and staff who come to the child care center sick or become sick while at your facility are sent home as soon as possible.
  • Keep sick children and staff separate from well children and staff until they can be sent home.
  • Sick staff members should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation.

The agency said facilities need to have a plan in place if someone is or becomes sick.


County DA’s encourage to reject Gov. Wolf’s comments

UPDATE 3:17 p.m.: Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) joined with 25 state lawmakers in sending the following open letter today encouraging all county district attorneys to publicly refuse to enforce Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 dictates:

“We write you today regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s unconstitutional and illegitimate attempts to close businesses and shut down our Commonwealth. We are calling on every district attorney throughout the Commonwealth to publicly commit to actively intervening to ensure that any citations issued under the governor’s emergency declarations are withdrawn, including citations based on the governor’s mandated business closures and stay-at-home order.

“Taking this action will allow business owners to make their own decisions regarding reopening, or continuing to operate cautiously and safely, without having to be afraid of their government that is supposed to be serving them. While Gov. Wolf may claim that he has begun to reopen the state, this effort has come far too late, and will not happen quickly enough for our citizens and businesses that are suffering immensely under his mandates.

“As you are aware, the governor has attempted to base his nonexistent authority primarily on provisions of the Administrative Code and the Disease Prevention and Control Law. Nothing in either of these laws, or any other state law, has granted the governor the authority to issue these far-reaching restrictions which have had a devastating impact on our economy and our citizens’ most basic and fundamental rights.

“The governor has unilaterally made arbitrary and capricious decisions about which members of our workforce he will permit the dignity of continuing to earn a living to support their families. With an unprecedented number of Pennsylvanians unemployed, many throughout the state are concerned about putting food on the table. Additionally, the governor has encouraged our citizens to turn against their neighbors and communities to report non-compliance with his dictates, evoking scenes from an Orwellian nightmare.

“Our businesses need certainty that they will not be punished for attempting to operate by serving their communities and allowing their employees to earn a wage. We were heartened to see Blair County District Attorney Peter Weeks quoted recently saying, ‘I’m not sure noncompliance with the governor’s order is a crime. Criminalizing that behavior without legislation sounds unconstitutional.’

“We would urge all district attorneys throughout the Commonwealth to make similar statements and declare that you will not prosecute any citation related to the governor’s orders, and in fact, that you will proactively seek to have any such citation withdrawn.”

Today, I joined with 25 state lawmakers in sending the open letter below encouraging all county district attorneys to...

Posted by PA State Representative Daryl Metcalfe on Monday, May 11, 2020

PA Secretary of Health update on COVID-19 in state

UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: The Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said there were 543 new cases of coronavirus in the state. The state numbers includes 3,790 in health care workers and 11,801 positive cases among residents of 540 long term living facilities.

If you live an area that has turned from red to yellow, Dr. Levine said you still need to wear a mask and observe social distancing guidelines to keep safe.

At the order of the Center for Medicaid Services, routine inspections of nursing facilities are not being conducted throughout the state. Only emergency issues are being looked into, according to Dr. Levine.

A temporary manager was placed at Brighton Rehabilitation and the National Guard is on site providing direct patient care support as of today. There are no intentions to evacuate the facility currently. Dr. Levine said the state will take whatever means are necessary to protect patients and staff at the facility.

Dr. Levine said according to the state’s legal team, a temporary manager was instituted by agreement of all the parties and was not forced into position due to the outbreak at Brighton Rehab.

The temporary manager, Allaire Health Services, of New Jersey, will remain in place until Brighton is able to achieve substantial compliance with the recommendations or the rate of infection at Brighton is substantially reduced. The department will pay the fees and costs for the temporary management from the state’s civil monetary penalty fund; however, Brighton still remains responsible for all expenses in maintaining the operation of the facility including: payroll; food costs; medications and supplies; payment for contracted services; facility lease, operation and maintenance costs; liability insurance and other operational costs.

Dr. Levine said it is concerning with counties moving from red to yellow on their own in terms of public health. She said there is no exact criteria yet to determine if a county should go from yellow to green. She said there are economic, social, public health and political impacts to areas opening on their own.

She said the state is working on plans to test all nursing home patients and staff and will release the details of the plan later in the week.


New mobile unit will take COVID-19 testing into under-served communities

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: The first AHN mobile testing site will be in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood on Tuesday, May 12 and Thursday, May 14 outside the Alma Illery Medical Center on Hamilton Avenue.

People do not need a doctor’s order to get tested, but do need to make an appointment, which they can do by calling AHN’s 24/7 Nurse On Call line (412-NURSE4U – or 412-687-7348).

Those who make appointments should be aware of the following:

  • Patients will be given a specific appointment window, in order to minimize wait times.
  • Patients will walk through a secured, marked area.
  • No outdoor restrooms will be available at the collection locations.
  • The sample is collected via a nasal swab and the process typically takes less than 30 seconds, not including any wait times.
  • Testing results for the coronavirus typically take 5-7 days, depending on regional test volume. Individuals will be contacted directly with their results. As volumes increase, wait times for results may be longer.
  • While waiting for their test results, individuals should stay at home. Those who receive positive COVID-19 test results may be issued additional care orders or self-isolation orders.

COVID-19 in Pennsylvania: Monday update

UPDATE 12:04 p.m.: The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed an additional 543 cases of coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number to 57,154. The state also reports 24 new deaths for a total of 3,731 since the outbreak began.

There are 231,704 patients who have tested negative so far.

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Here is break down by local counties:

  • Allegheny Co.: 1,511 positive cases, 123 deaths, 19,699 negative tests
  • Armstrong Co.: 55 positive cases, 5 deaths, 843 negative tests
  • Beaver Co.: 491 positive cases, 78 deaths, 2,503 negative tests
  • Butler Co.: 195 positive cases, 6 deaths, 2,748 negative tests
  • Clarion Co.: 23 positive cases, 1 death, 554 negative tests
  • Fayette Co.: 85 positive cases, 4 deaths, 2,221 negative tests
  • Forest Co.: 7 positive cases, 0 deaths, 39 negative tests
  • Greene Co.: 27 positive cases, 1 death, 522 negative tests
  • Indiana Co.: 76 positive cases, 5 deaths, 898 negative tests
  • Lawrence Co.: 70 positive cases, 7 deaths, 912 negative tests
  • Mercer Co.: 75 positive cases, 2 deaths, 948 negative tests
  • Venango Co.: 7 positive cases, 0 deaths, 302 negative tests
  • Washington Co.: 124 positive cases, 4 deaths, 2,719 negative tests
  • Westmoreland Co.: 418 positive cases, 32 deaths, 5,946 negative tests

Locally, there are 3,164 positive cases.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 11,801 resident cases of COVID-19, and 1,655 cases among employees, for a total of 13,456 at 540 distinct facilities in 44 counties. Of the state’s total deaths, 2,552 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.


Gov. Wolf: businesses opening prematurely could be uninsured

UPDATE 11:36 a.m.: At a news conference Monday, Gov. Wolf, said some counties and businesses “have decided to surrender to the virus," referencing leaders who have said they would not prosecute businesses in some local counties which choose to open on their own.

Wolf said the state is showing signs of success. The curve has been flattened in many areas of the state and over half of the counties in Pennsylvania will move into the yellow phase by Friday. The hospital system was not overwhelmed and the economy was given time to increase the supply of COVID-19 tests.

Wolf said Pennsylvanian’s have sacrificed in ways people could never have imagined during this pandemic. He said people need to understand the consequences their actions during this time and counties that choose to open prematurely will not receive specific funding. Wolf also said businesses which choose to open on their own could find themselves uninsured since they would be technically breaking the law.

The governor outlined the following consequences to counties that do not abide by the law to remain closed:

  • Counties will not be eligible for federal stimulus discretionary funds the state receives and intends to provide to counties with populations of fewer than 500,000.
  • Businesses in counties that do not abide by the law will no longer be eligible for business liability insurance and the protections it provides. The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance released details of this earlier today.
  • Restaurants that reopen for dine-in service in counties that have not been authorized to reopen will be at risk of losing their liquor license.
  • County residents receiving unemployment compensation will be able to continue to receive benefits even if their employer reopens. Employees may choose not to return out of concern for personal safety and safety of co-workers.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today reminded businesses of the importance of complying with Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine's orders – for counties in both the red and yellow phases.

In addition to the critical public health objectives, Commissioner Altman warned non-compliant businesses defying the governor and secretary's business closure orders that many insurance policies contain provisions that exclude coverage for businesses or individuals engaging in illegal acts or conduct. These exclusions may apply to property coverage, liability coverage, advertising injury coverage, and a host of other essential coverages.

"Businesses and residents rely on insurance coverage to protect them from liability, pay for covered losses, and compensate those who may be injured or harmed," said Altman. "It is the duty of every business and resident in Pennsylvania to ensure that they and the public at large are provided with the maximum level of protection afforded by insurance. Any actions that could potentially create coverage gaps are the antitheses of the civil duty required of all residents during these times of emergency."

This reminder is offered to all Pennsylvania businesses and residents, regardless of in what county they reside. The department strongly encourages businesses or residents who have questions or concerns regarding insurance coverage during the phased reopening of businesses in this commonwealth to reach out to their insurance carrier to discuss concerns.


COVID-19 update from the Allegheny County Health Department for Monday

UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department reported since March 14, there are now 1,511 cases as of Monday. That’s an increase of 8 coronavirus cases over Sunday. This breaks down to 1,439 positive confirmed cases and 72 probable cases.

According to the Allegheny County Health Department, 219 or 14% of all COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County are healthcare workers.

There has been one additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 123. Of reported deaths, 113 are confirmed or had a positive test and 10 are probable.

Here is a breakdown of cases by age group:

  • 0-4 years: 4 (less than 1%)
  • 5-12 years: 5 (less than 1%)
  • 13-18 years: 13 (1%)
  • 19-24 years: 103 (7%)
  • 25-49 years: 510 (35%)
  • 50-64 years: 431 (28%)
  • 65+ years: 445 (29%)

There are 274 past or present hospitalizations related to COVID-19.


Limited Services available at additional PennDOT Driver License & Photo License Centers

UPDATE 10:00 a.m.: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced Monday that starting Saturday, May 9, additional Driver License and Photo License Centers in yellow phase counties will reopen.

Two centers in western Pennsylvania are on the list:

  • Mercer Driver and Photo License Center at 519 B Greenville Road in Mercer.
  • New Castle Driver and Photo License Center at 973 Old Youngstown Road in New Castle.

The centers will offer limited services and hours. Safety precautions and social distancing will be in place.

The centers would be open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. There will be designated times for customers 60 years old and older on Wednesday and Thursday between 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

You can find a list of driver license and photo license centers that will be open during the yellow phase, HERE.


PA National Guard arrives at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center

UPDATE 7:00 a.m.: The Pennsylvania National Guard arrived Monday morning at Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County to offer support to the facility and the Department of Health.

The National Guard conducted an assessment of the facility on Saturday, the spokesperson said. The agency will provide additional staff to the facility from Monday, May 11 to Monday, May 18. At that point, Brighton Rehab is going to bring in additional nursing support from Texas and the National Guard will leave.


Coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Monday morning

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: Starting Monday, the Pennsylvania National Guard will be assisting the Pennsylvania Department of Health with a Beaver County nursing home hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Guard will provide additional staff to the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, where it is believed more than 70 residents died from the coronavirus.

You can customize your WPXI News App to receive alerts to breaking news. CLICK HERE to find out how.

A spokesperson for the National Guard said the agency will provide the additional staff through May 18, at which point the agency will leave as Brighton Rehab brings in additional nursing support from Texas.

There will be 27 members of the National Guard providing support, helping with cleaning, meal preparations and service, according to Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

>>FULL STORY: Pennsylvania National Guard assisting state with Brighton Rehabilitation facility

As of Sunday, Pennsylvania had 56,611 cases of the coronavirus and 3,707 deaths statewide, according to the Department of Health. There have been 227,772 people who tested negative for the virus.

In nursing and personal care homes statewide, there were 11,645 resident cases of COVID-19 and 1,645 cases among employees, for a total of 13,290 at 539 distinct facilities in 44 counties, the Department of Health said Sunday. Of the state’s total deaths, 2,529 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.