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.
UPDATE 9:35 p.m.: Gov. Wolf will announce tomorrow that Beaver County will be moving to the yellow phase next week, multiple sources tell Channel 11.
The rest of southwestern Pa. begins moving back toward normalcy tomorrow, but because of the high number of cases at a nursing home in Beaver County it was not included.
Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center has since had a temporary manager installed by the state, and help from the Pa. National Guard to ensure patients are being cared for while staff are following proper cleaning and wellness procedures.
UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: The Port Authority has been running on a limited schedule for more than a month, but starting Monday it will resume normal service on most bus routes.
However, all three light rail lines and 32 bus routes will remain on a reduced schedule.
Riders are being asked to wear masks, and the Port Authority is maintaining the following passenger limits:
- 10 passengers on a 35-foot bus
- 15 passengers on a 45-foot bus
- 25 passengers on a 60-foot articulated bus or light rail car
“This plan of action will allow us to safely and responsibly resume regular service while continuing to make sure our riders and employees feel safe, comfortable and protected,” said Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman.
UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced new plans to resume daily and weekend masses starting in June.
In a release, the diocese said it plans on restarting daily in-person masses on June 1. The diocese also has the “goal” of resuming weekend masses the next weekend -- June 6 and June 7.
In the meantime, funerals and weddings will be limited to 25 people during the yellow phase. Officials said masses will continue to be live-streamed.
Below is part of the release from the diocese:
"Starting tomorrow, May 15, 2020, the first phase of the diocesan reopening plan for the counties in the state’s “yellow” level of reopening includes the following:
- Limited funeral Masses and weddings continue, with cleaning/sanitizing guidelines in place, expanding to groups of no more than 25 people.
- Churches will be permitted to open for private prayer with safety guidelines in place including seating in designated areas only, the use of masks, hand sanitizers, and social distancing.
- Churches will be permitted to open for Confessions – Confessionals do not meet public health safety requirements, and as such, Confessions will be heard at posted times and in a manner that preserves the sanctity of the Sacrament. Penitents must practice social distancing and all other safety guidelines.
- Baptisms can be scheduled but with the restriction of one family baptism per each ceremony and no more than 25 people present. Great care must be given to social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitization precautions.
- Livestream Masses and prayer services will continue.
A diocesan COVID-19 Task Force team has developed a comprehensive reference guide, called “Moving Forward Together.” This document, which will be released tomorrow (May 15), details health and safety guidelines that will need to be met as Churches reopen for in-person liturgical celebrations. The guidelines will be reviewed by pastors and priests, and posted for the faith community, so they know their part in creating safe prayer environments.
Diocesan leadership will assist and support Pastors as they make decisions on reopening based on government guidelines specific to their county, as well as their own assessment of the ability to meet all necessary health and safety requirements including wearing masks and honoring social distancing requirements.
Moving forward from this phase, the diocese will look to return to the public celebration of the Holy Mass, starting with daily Masses on Monday, June 1, 2020, and a goal of recommencing weekend Masses the weekend of June 6 and 7, 2020. More details will be released closer to those dates."
UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf held a conference call Thursday afternoon in which he talked about expectations for the coming days as areas in southwester Pennsylvania move to the yellow phase.
On the call, Wolf said there could be “an explosion of violations" from businesses and counties that do not follow the state’s red and yellow phase orders.
“What it could do is lead to an explosion of violations,” Wolf said. “The virus is going to say, ‘Thank you very much. You’re giving me a great opportunity to infect a lot more people.’”
There has been significant pushback against the governor’s order, especially in Beaver County, which is being kept in the red phase.
Wolf said any business or county that does not follow the orders will risk losing its license and, more importantly he said, risk the lives of customers and employees.
UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: Most of our area is moving to the yellow phase tomorrow, but the Department of Agriculture has issued a reminder that restaurants are ordered to remain closed.
Food safety inspectors will look into reports of restaurants that are opened in violation of the state’s order, and on first offense the owner will be issued a written letter.
If, during a follow up inspection, the restaurant is still offering dine-in service then its food license will be suspended.
Once that happens, if a restaurant continues to operate in violation of the order it will be cited and penalties could be up $10,000 per day.
“We know that people dining together in a restaurant puts many people at risk of exposure, including patrons and employees,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is essential that restaurants comply with guidance and continue with carry-out and delivery options at this time. Social distancing is a primary tool to fight this virus, and we must stay the course.”
UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: Pennsylvania has more than 59,636 positive cases of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. There are 938 additional positive cases from Wednesday.
There were 44 new deaths reported overnight; the remaining 231 were reported as a result of a reconciliation of data over the past several weeks. This means the department added 275 total deaths to the data, bringing to total number of deaths to 4,218. To date, 251,559 tests have come back negative.
Locally there are 3,255 cases in western Pennsylvania, and 288 deaths. Here is the break down by county:
- Allegheny Co.: 1,551 cases, 139 deaths
- Armstrong Co.: 56 cases, 5 deaths
- Beaver Co.: 512 cases, 82 deaths
- Butler Co.: 199 cases, 6 deaths
- Clarion Co.: 24 cases, 1 death
- Fayette Co.: 87 cases, 4 deaths
- Forest Co.: 7 cases, 0 deaths
- Greene Co.: 27 cases, 1 death
- Indiana Co.: 82 cases, 5 deaths
- Lawrence Co.: 71 cases, 7 deaths
- Mercer Co.: 81 cases, 2 death
- Venango Co.: 7 cases, 0 deaths
- Washington Co.: 129 cases, 4 deaths
- Westmoreland Co.: 422 cases, 32 deaths
UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department reported since March 14, there are now 1,551 cases as of Thursday. That’s an increase of 6 coronavirus cases over Wednesday. This breaks down to 1,474 positive confirmed cases and 77 probable cases.
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: 523 (34%)
- 50-64 years: 436 (28%)
- 65+ years: 467 (30%)
There are 283 past or present hospitalizations related to COVID-19.
There have been no additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 139 Of the reported deaths, 129 are confirmed or had a positive test and 10 are probable.
UPDATE 8:30 a.m.: CVS Health announced Thursday they are opening nine new COVID-19 testing sites at CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations across Pennsylvania, including two in the Pittsburgh area.
People who meet certain criteria can register to take the self-swab test at CVS Pharmacy locations at 4849 William Flynn Highway in Allison Park; and 611 Duncan Avenue in McCandless starting May 15.
The self-swab tests will be available to people who register to have an appointment and who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria. Patients will need to stay inside their cars and will be directed to the pharmacy drive through and given a test kit.
The results should be available in three days. You can register in advance at CVS.com.
CVS Health says it plans to open additional testing sites across the state in the next two weeks.
UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: Southwestern Pennsylvania, with the exception of Beaver County, will move from the “red” phase to the “yellow” phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening plan on Friday.
In Allegheny County, officials are reminding people to remain cautious.
“I think I worry in my own mind that people say we no longer have a stay-at-home order, and that means we should go out and have huge events,” Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said Wednesday. “This is a very limited opening, and if people don’t adhere and we go crazy and have big parties and large groups, we are going to see a lot of spread.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald urged people as they go back to work to be courteous, responsible and stay at least six feet away from others. He said it’s critical, especially in densely populated areas like downtown, Oakland and the South Side.
Fitzgerald also urged businesses to stagger shifts in an effort to limit the number of employees. He’s worried about people packing into small offices and elevators.
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The county health department plans to use the medical reserve corps to help with contact tracing.
As of Wednesday, Pennsylvania had 58,698 cases of COVID-19 and 3,943 deaths statewide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. There have been 244,171 people who tested negative for the virus.
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