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TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates April 16

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.

Gov. Wolf doesn’t plan to rush to reopen Pa.

UPDATE 10 p.m.: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf made it very clear earlier Thursday that he doesn’t want to rush the process of re-opening the state’s economy, but President Donald Trump said in a press conference he would like to see America reopen as quickly as possible.

In the multi-phased plan, titled ‘Opening Up America Again,’ Trump put the responsibility on state governors to decide whether or not to implement it. It could be on a state-wide or county-by-county basis; that’s up to the governors to decide.

Wolf made it clear he doesn’t plan to rush things.

"I think we ought to stay the course right now. This is hard, it is devastating the economy – no question. But letting this virus overwhelm the healthcare system and the ability of Pennsylvania to resist it would be even worse for the economy,” Wolf said.

The plan to open the country again comes in three phases for individuals and employers.

Restaurants, movie theaters and large sporting venues that may reopen would only do so under certain conditions – which may include reconfigured seating to ensure proper distancing.

Trump is suggesting states to have a sustained decrease in cases over a 14-day period before re-opening. He also wants people to wear a face mask and continue social distancing.

President Trump gives governors 3-phase plan to reopen economy

6:15 p.m.: President Donald Trump gave governors a road map Thursday for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic, laying out a phased approach to restoring normal activity in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

“You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told the governors, according to an audio recording obtained by The Associated Press. “We’re going to be standing alongside of you.”

The new guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while holding the line in harder-hit locations. They make clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than Trump initially envisioned, with federal officials warning that some social distancing measures may need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak.

Read more about the full document here.

>> READ THE TRUMP PLAN: “Opening Up American Again”

Mayor Peduto says Pittsburgh is facing a financial shortfall

5:12 p.m.: Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto held a video presentation Thursday afternoon and during that he talked about the city’s distancing efforts and financial situation.

It’s been one month since Peduto declared a state of emergency in the city.

“It hasn’t been easy, but it has saved lives and it’s no time to stop now," he said.

The mayor said the city has provided more than 10,000 meals to school children and seniors so far and will continue that effort.

But the mayor also painted a bleak financial picture – a shortfall of tens of millions of dollars.

He said that as the city rebounds it will lean heavily on nonprofits, foundations and corporate partners who have stepped up in the past.

“We will become stronger than ever just as we have when generational crisis have rocked us in the past. We’ve been knocked to our knees before and always find a way to stand back up. It’s in our DNA,” he said.

The mayor did not offer a timetable on when the city would reopen for business.

He did say he will leave that up to the health care professionals.

Beaver Co. officials say Brighton Rehab isn’t communicating with them

4:25 p.m.: The Beaver County Commissioners held a news conference Thursday afternoon expressing their concern about the lack of communication from Brighton Rehab Center.

Brighton Rehab has had dozens of cases of COVID-19 and several deaths. Earlier this month, leaders within the nursing home announced that they were operating as if all 800 residents and staff members were positive.

Click here to read more.

Allegheny Co. residents asked to refrain from open burning during pandemic

3:15 p.m.: Allegheny County officials are asking county residents to voluntarily refrain from recreational burning.

Dr. Debra Bogen, Director of the Health Department, said, “With more people at home due to the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in recreational burning. The resulting smoke reduces local air quality and for our neighbors and friends with chronic diseases such as asthma or COPD, local burns can trigger the need for more medication, emergency medical visits, and deterioration of the chronic conditions. Please - I ask you all during this crisis to think about the health needs of your neighbors and refrain from all backyard burns.”

According to the county, the COVID-19 pandemic poses threats to individuals with a history of heart or respiratory illness, and open burning adds to that burden. Smoke can increase an individual’s susceptibility to the virus and can also decrease a COVID-19 infected individual’s ability to fight the virus and worsen their symptoms. It can also result in non-COVID infected individuals having to seek medical attention during this crisis because of respiratory illness.

Pennsylvania to use liquor stores for online fulfillment

UPDATE 2 p.m.: Workers will be back on the job at more than 100 shuttered state-owned liquor stores to help process online orders, Pennsylvania's liquor agency said Thursday.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s office gave the OK to reopen 106 of the state system’s 600 stores for online fulfillment but not for public retail sales, a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokeswoman said.

You can read more HERE.

Allegheny Co. DA warns of coronavirus text scam

UPDATE 12:20 p.m.: The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office is warning of a scam involving a test message advising you to self isolate and click the link in the message.

The DA’s office said do not click on the link.

COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania update

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: The Pennsylvania Department of Health said there are 1,245 new positive cases and 60 new deaths in the state. This brings the total to 27,735 positive cases and 707 deaths across the state.

Of the total cases, 1,855 of them are in our area.

Here is a local breakdown by county:

  • Allegheny Co.: 925 cases, 38 deaths
  • Butler Co.: 154 cases, 5 deaths
  • Beaver Co.: 168 cases, 24 deaths (According to the Beaver Co. coroner)
  • Washington Co.: 73 cases, 1 death
  • Greene Co.: 24 cases
  • Fayette Co.: 60 cases, 3 deaths
  • Westmoreland Co.: 240 cases, 19 deaths (According to the Westmoreland Co. coroner)
  • Indiana Co.: 44 cases, 2 deaths
  • Armstrong Co.: 32 cases, 1 death
  • Clarion Co.: 17 cases
  • Venango Co.: 6 cases
  • Forest Co.: 7 cases
  • Lawrence Co.: 55 cases, 5 deaths
  • Mercer Co.: 50 cases

Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24;
  • Nearly 40% are aged 25-49;
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 23% are aged 65 or older.

State health officials said 113,735 people have tested negative so far.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 3,290 resident cases of COVID-19, and 394 cases among employees, for a total of 3,684 at 306 distinct facilities in 34 counties. Out of the total deaths, 365 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

2 more coronavirus-related deaths in Westmoreland County

UPDATE 11:25 a.m.: Two more people in Westmoreland County have died of COVID-19, according to the Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office. The total number of deaths in the county is now 19.

COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County: Thursday update

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.: There are 21 new positive cases of the coronavirus in Allegheny County, bringing the total to 925, the Allegheny County Health Department announced.

Officials said 162 people have been or are currently being hospitalized, and 12 more deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of deaths to 38. All deaths in the county have been people between the ages of 56 and 103, the Health Department said.

“Today’s increase in the number of deaths does not reflect a jump in deaths in the past 24 hours. Instead, it reflects a delay in deaths being added to the surveillance system,” the health department said.

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Here is a breakdown of cases by age group:

  • 0-4 years: 2
  • 5-12 years: 4
  • 13-18 years: 10
  • 19-24 years: 73
  • 25-49 years: 348
  • 50-64 years: 257
  • 65+ years: 231

Of the cases, 487 are female and 438 are male.

Bank of America joins PA CARE Package

UPDATE 9:50 a.m.: Bank of America has joined the PA CARE Package to help the Attorney General’s Office ensure Pennsylvania consumers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for additional economic relief.

The PA CARE Package is Pennsylvania’s consumer relief initiative.

“This commitment will help communities and businesses in Pennsylvania who are facing lost wages, lost jobs, and lost income focus on what’s important -- staying safe and healthy during this emergency,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

To commit to the PA CARE Package initiative, financial institutions and banks must offer the following additional assistance to Pennsylvanians facing financial hardship due to impacts of the pandemic:

  • Expansion of small and medium business loan availability
  • 90-day grace period (at least) for mortgages not already covered by the CARES Act’s 180-day grace period
  • 90-day grace period for other consumer loans such as auto loans
  • 90-day window for relief from fees and charges such as late, overdraft fees
  • Foreclosure, eviction, and motor vehicle repossession moratorium for 60 days
  • No adverse credit reporting for accessing relief on consumer loans

Bank of America clients facing financial hardships are encouraged to visit the company’s Client Resources website and contact the client services team for assistance.

CLICK HERE for more information on the PA CARE Package initiative.

Frontline AHN caregivers using industrial grade respirator masks

UPDATE 7:30 a.m.: Frontline caregivers are being provided with industrial grade respirator masks to help prevent exposure to the coronavirus at Allegheny Health Network hospitals.

The masks, which can be disinfected and reused repeatedly, filter out nearly 100 percent of airborne particulates, a news release from AHN said.

While the masks are not typically used in healthcare settings, a shortage of disposable masks caused by the worldwide pandemic had AHN looking for other options.

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Advantage 200 Respirators are half-masks that are tight-fitting to cover a person’s nose and mouth, and they have twin removable filter cartridges.

AHN said its sterilization technicians will disinfect the masks between uses.

The Advantage 200 masks started to be used by AHN caregivers this week, officials said.

AHN is also using a mask sterilization and re-use program that allows N95 masks to be used more than once.

>>STORY: AHN now sanitizing, reusing N95 masks with CDC-approved process

“The Advantage 200 LS Respirator masks will be used by the same frontline AHN staff that are now wearing N95 masks -- including ICU and emergency department clinicians, or any caregiver working with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 positive patients,” the news release said.

COVID-19 self-swab testing available at Rite Aid in Monroeville

UPDATE 5:15 a.m.: The Rite Aid in Monroeville is now a COVID-19 self-swab testing site.

Starting Thursday, the Rite Aid on William Penn Highway will have the self-swab tests, which will be administered in the store’s parking lot and overseen by Rite Aid pharmacists.

People who are eligible are required to preregister and schedule appointments on Rite Aid’s website. Eligibility is based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People who go to be tested need to have government issued identification and be at least 18 years old.

>>FULL STORY: COVID-19 self-swab testing available at Rite Aid in Allegheny County

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Thursday morning

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: The number of coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania grew by 1,145 Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 26,490, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. More than 60 people have died.

To protect workers needed to run and operate life-sustaining businesses, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order to provide protections and establish protocols.

>>STORY: Pa. health secretary signs order providing safety measures for workers during COVID-19 pandemic

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