TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates March 19

Gov. Tom Wolf orders all ‘non-life-sustaining’ businesses in Pa. to close due to coronavirus outbreak

PITTSBURGH — The first coronavirus-related death in Pennsylvania, in Northampton County, has been confirmed as the number of cases in the state grows to over 180. Keep checking back for the latest COVID-19 updates throughout the day.

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

IMPORTANT UPDATE (4:47 p.m. Scroll down to see the newest updates): Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m.

The governor said enforcement actions against businesses that do not close will begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. That has since been delayed to 8 a.m. Monday.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are among the businesses that are considered life-sustaining and WILL remain open.

“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” said Wolf. “This virus is an invisible danger that could be present everywhere. We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely.”

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

Food establishments can still offer carry-out, delivery and drive-thru food and beverage service, including alcohol.

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines or license suspensions.

Quick List:

Open:

  • Grocery Stores
  • Gas Stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Beer Distributors
  • Transit and transportation systems
  • Taxis, etc..

Closed:

  • Department stores
  • Clothing stores
  • Shoe stores
  • Gyms, Yoga Studios, Nail Salons, Barbershops
  • Car Dealers (Selling Cars, Service Centers will be OPEN)
  • Furniture Stores

You can see the full list below:

UPDATE (11:30 p.m.): Workers in Pennsylvania who are impacted by the coronavirus might be eligible for Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Unemployment compensation claims should be submitted online (CLICK HERE) for faster processing, the department said.

“As Pennsylvania and the nation implement mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is important to relieve some of the financial pressures our workers are facing so they can focus on remaining healthy and safe,” Secretary of Labor & Industry Jerry Oleksiak said in a statement. “The best option is for employers to offer their employees paid time off. If leave is not available and your job has been impacted by this new virus, you may be eligible for benefits either through unemployment or workers’ compensation. If you work in a job or industry that likely will be affected, prepare now by knowing what you need and how to file so your application can be processed quickly.”

You might be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits if:

  • Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19;
  • Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19;
  • You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread COVID-19; or
  • You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts.

If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation by either:

  • Notifying your employer to file a typical “disease-as-injury” WC claim, which requires you to provide medical evidence that you were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • Notifying your employer to file an “occupational disease” WC claim, which requires you to show that COVID-19 is occurring more in your occupation/industry than in the general population.

UPDATE (10:40 p.m.): Pittsburgh Public Schools is partnering with local community organizations to provide 30 different locations across the city for “Grab and Go meals" during the coronavirus outbreak.

PPS officials said the locations, which are open to all students, will occur from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Friday -- with students receiving multiple meals on Tuesday, March 24.

Optional grade-level activities packets will also be available for pick-up at those locations on Tuesday.

The list of locations is below:

  • Pittsburgh Morrow – Primary Building - 1611 Davis Ave, 15212
  • Pittsburgh Perry High School - 3875 Perrysville Ave., 15214
  • Northview Heights Public Safety Center - 441 Mount Pleasant, 15214
  • Pittsburgh Project - 2801 N Charles St., 15214
  • Pittsburgh Spring Hill -1351 Damas St, 15212
  • Arlington Recreation Center - 2201 Salisbury Street,
  • Pittsburgh Beechwood - 810 Rockland Ave, 15216
  • Pittsburgh Carrick High School - 125 Parkfield St, 15210
  • St. Paul AME Church - 400 Orchard Place, 15210
  • Tree of Life Brookline - 1036 Brookline Boulevard, 15226
  • Pittsburgh Roosevelt – Intermediate - 200 The Blvd, 15210
  • Warrington Recreation Center - 329 E. Warrington Ave. 15210
  • Pittsburgh West Liberty - 785 Dunster St, 15226
  • Pittsburgh Whittier - 150 Meridan St, 15211
  • Pittsburgh Colfax - 2332 Beechwood Blvd,15217
  • East Hills Community Center - 2291 Wilner Dr. 15221
  • Pittsburgh Faison - 7430 Tioga St, 15208
  • Glen Hazel Community Center - 895 Johnston Avenue, 15207
  • Pittsburgh Greenfield - 1 Alger St, 15207
  • Pittsburgh Mifflin - 1290 Mifflin Rd,15207
  • Pittsburgh Obama - 515 N Highland Ave, 15206
  • Paulson Recreation Center - 1201 Paulson Ave. 15206
  • Salvation Army Homewood - 8020 Frankstown Ave. 15221
  • Pittsburgh Chartiers Early Childhood Education Center - 3799 Chartiers, 15204
  • Emanuel United Methodist Church for Kids Meal Network - 825 Lorenz Ave. 15220
  • The M Garden - 3049 Chartiers Ave, 15204
  • Salvation Army – Westside -1821 Broadhead Fording Rd. 15205
  • Pittsburgh Westwood - 508 Shadyhill Rd, 15205
  • Pittsburgh Miller - 2055 Bedford Ave, 15219
  • Pittsburgh Weil - 2250 Centre Ave, 15219

UPDATE (9:25 p.m.): Westminster College has postponed its spring 2020 commencement ceremony amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The college announced the decision Thursday evening “in order to ensure the safety and well-being of students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The commencement ceremony was originally scheduled for May 9, and a new date has not yet been set.

“This was a difficult decision to make because we understand how very important this celebration is to our hard-working seniors and their families, but we are in unprecedented times,” said Westminster College President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson. “We did not arrive at this decision lightly. We are saddened, but we are also committed to keeping our students, their families and Westminster’s employees safe.”

While a new date has not yet been set, Richardson said a formal commencement celebration will take place. Westminster’s campus task force continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will follow state and CDC recommendations regarding social distancing and large group gatherings.

“Commencement is a joyous time and we look forward to celebrating our students’ achievements and to seeing our seniors walk across Weisel Senior Terrace to receive their diplomas,” said Richardson, adding that graduating seniors and their families will be notified as soon as a new date has been established."

UPDATE (8:21 p.m.): Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he is self-quarantining for 14 days after attending a conference in Washington, D.C. where he said at least two of his colleagues contracted COVID-19.

He said he’s doing it out of an abundance of caution, and is not showing any symptoms and feels great.

He also took the time to thank the City of Pittsburgh -- including its workers and the community.

You can watch the two-part tweet below.

UPDATE (5:45 p.m.): The CDC has launched a new “self-checker” on its website that allowed individuals to answer a few questions and then it offers advice.

It also provides information on how to care for yourself at home.

Click here and then click on the orange self-checker box in the lower right hand corner of the page.

UPDATE (5:12 p.m.): Amie Downs, a spokesperson for Allegheny County, provided the following statement regarding inmate releases from the county jail:

"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.

So far, 189 inmate releases have been sent to the jail. Releases are being processed by the jail as they are received, and the same process related to discharge and release followed 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."

UPDATE (4:27 p.m.): Allegheny Health Network has suspended all patient visitation at its affiliated hospitals, outpatient clinics and ambulatory surgery centers starting at 7 p.m.

There are four exceptions to the hospital no visitation rule. Patients in the following areas or circumstances will be allowed two visitors at a time:

  • Labor and Delivery
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU)
  • Pediatrics
  • End of Life Care

Visitors to the hospital exception areas will still be screened before entering the facility and asked the following questions:

  • Have you traveled domestically or internationally in the last 14 days?
  • Do you have a cough or fever?

Those who answer yes to either question will not be allowed to enter the facility.

Hospital visitation hours are also now limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and only visitors age 18 and older are permitted.

“We understand that visitation restrictions are difficult for both our patients and their loved ones, but we hope that everyone understands the gravity of the public health crisis that we are experiencing and that they appreciate that the steps we are taking are in the best interests of everyone at this time,” said Brian Parker, MD, AHN Chief Quality and Learning Officer.

UPDATE (4:03 p.m.): The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh’s Board of Directors approved a new program called the COVID-19 Housing Stabilization Fund.

It’s for households at or below 80% Area Median Income who have been affected by the impact of the coronavirus. It’s designed to provide short-term assistance to workers who have experienced a reduction in hours and are facing a financial hardship to pay rent and utilities.

Beginning Monday, households in need may call 412-227-4163 to be screened for assistance.

To qualify for the COVID-19 Housing Stabilization Fund, households must:

  • Be employed, recently employed, or self-employed and experiencing a reduction in hours or a layoff due to the employer reducing/eliminating work hours or the loss of contract work as a public health precaution related to the COVID-19 virus; Documentation from the employer is required
  • Experience a financial hardship and inability to pay rent, mortgage payment(s) or utilities
  • Be located in the City of Pittsburgh

UPDATE (3:48 p.m.): The Derry Area School District was notified by a support staff employee at Grandview Elementary School that a family member in their household has tested positive for COVID-19.

Out of precaution, they have shut down the school and have sent all essential employees home through next Tuesday.

Good Afternoon, Earlier today the district administration was notified by a support staff employee at Grandview...

Posted by Derry Area School District on Thursday, March 19, 2020

UPDATE (3:45 p.m.): The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced the cancellation of all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year.

“Our school communities are operating within unprecedented conditions,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “Schools are making extraordinary efforts to remain connected to students and families, to provide food service and to put appropriate systems in place to continue student learning. Assessments should not be the focus of school leaders right now.

“To be clear, all assessments are cancelled for this year,” he added. “The department will submit the requisite waivers to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), but no schools in the Commonwealth will be administering these tests this year.”

UPDATE (3:33 p.m.): Allegheny County Health officials said in a news briefing on Thursday that some of the cases in Allegheny County were a result of community spread.

Community spread/ transmission: Cases of disease that happen in communities without researchers knowing the person with the disease contracted it.

UPDATE (2:59 p.m.): U.S. Attorney Scott Brady and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro have announced he formation of a joint federal and state Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute coronavirus-related fraud.

UPDATE (1:14 p.m.): Two Penn State students who were studying abroad have both tested positive for coronavirus, according to WJAC.

The university told WJAC that neither students have been on campus. One of the students is with family and is showing no symptoms, and the other is still abroad and is feeling better.

UPDATE (12:46 p.m.): Mon Health announced they will be offering drive-through testing sites starting on Friday.

The site on Friday will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Surgicare South area of the MHMC campus.

Additional drive-through sites are being planned.

UPDATE (12:40 p.m.): The City of Pittsburgh announced that meals will be provided to seniors who are currently registered for normal congregate meal service beginning on Friday.

Around 100 pre-packaged (likely frozen) meals per day will be available for take-out only and will be served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the following centers:

  • Glen Hazel – 945 Rosselle Court, 15207
  • Sheraden – 720 Sherwood Avenue, 15204
  • Southside – 12th St & 1 Beford Square, 15203
  • Lawrenceville – 4600 Butler Street, 15201
  • Homewood – 7321 Frankstown Avenue, 15208
  • Hazelwood – 5344 Second Avenue, 15207

Seniors who are not registered for the program but are in need of food or other resources should contact the Allegheny County Area on Aging’s SeniorLine (1-800-344-4319).

UPDATE (12:02 p.m.): The total of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania has risen to 185, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said.

There 52 additional positive cases, including the 2 first cases Westmoreland County and 1 additional in Washington County of COVID-19 reported on Thursday, as of noon.

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

“Our notable increase in cases over the last few days and our first death in Pennsylvania 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. That person was from Northampton County.

There are 1,608 patients who have tested negative, officials said.

UPDATE (11:40 a.m.): The Department of Human Services is restricting visitation at Pennsylvania’s state centers, state hospitals, youth development centers and youth forestry camps.

“All visitors are currently prohibited from all state center and state hospital campuses, youth development centers, and youth forestry camps, and the policy will remain in place until guidance from public-health professionals changes. Exceptions to the policy are in place for visits of medical necessity, visits by probation departments or legal counsel, and family or clergy visits approved by the facility director. Residents of state hospitals maintain their rights to attorney consultations. Any visitor permitted will be screened for health concerns upon their arrival,” a news release said.

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

Pennsylvania’s four state centers are: Ebensburg Center in Cambria County, Polk Center in Venango County, Selinsgrove Center in Snyder County and White Haven Center in Luzerne County.

Pennsylvania’s six state hospitals are: Clarks Summit State Hospital in Lackawanna County, Danville State Hospital in Montour County, Norristown State Hospital in Montgomery County, Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County, Warren State Hospital in Warren County and Wernersville State Hospital in Berks County. This also applies to South Mountain Restoration Center, a long-term care facility operated by the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Pennsylvania’s three youth development centers are: South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit in Franklin County, North Central Secure Treatment Unit in Montour County and Loysville Youth Development Center in Perry County.

The commonwealth’s two youth forestry camps are in Hickory Run State Park in Luzerne County and in Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County.

UPDATE (11:25 a.m.): The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office gave an update on a deputy who is self-quarantined after showing up for work Wednesday with possible symptoms of the coronavirus.

The deputy was tested for coronavirus, though results are not yet in, and 15 other deputies are in self-isolation.

After telling a supervisor he was concerned by his symptoms, the deputy said his son’s girlfriend had recently returned from a trip to Spain.

The girlfriend visited the son at the deputy’s home in Pittsburgh while he was out of town over the weekend. The deputy was never in contact with her.

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

The deputy called his doctor, who told him not to report to the doctor’s office. He then used a sick day for Tuesday, but he reported to work on Wednesday.

The deputy was sent home Wednesday after about 10 to 12 minutes in the office. He was then tested and told to self-quarantine for 14 days.

None of the 15 deputies he interacted with have shown symptoms of the coronavirus, but are not returning to work for the time being.

“It should be noted that this has not negatively impacted, whatsoever, the operations of the Sheriff’s Office,” a news release said. “It should also be stressed that no one related to this matter has tested positive for COVID-19.”

Allegheny County Sheriff’s deputy self-quarantined after showing possible symptoms of the coronavirus

UPDATE (11:01 a.m.): There are now 18 positive cases of the coronavirus in Allegheny County, the Allegheny County Health Department announced.

That brings the total number of cases in western Pennsylvania to 22. In addition to the Allegheny County cases, there are two cases in Beaver County and two in Washington County.

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

UPDATE (10:20 a.m.): Penn Hills has established an Emergency Operations Center that is staffed 24/7 with multiple phone lines and operators. The hotline number is 412-342-1199.

“The purpose of an Emergency Operations Center is to provide information management, resource management and to coordinate with County, State and Federal agencies,” a news release said.

UPDATE (10:10 a.m.): Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein’s office is temporarily suspending seeking new court enforcement orders to collect delinquent drink, hotel and car rental taxes.

“While taxes continue to be collected as scheduled, the move is intended to avoid placing any additional strain on struggling, often small businesses during the current pandemic and time of economic uncertainty,” a news release said.

UPDATE (9:53 a.m.): Mon Health System Hospitals and facilities announced Thursday it has suspended all non-essential treatments in order to safeguard its patients and staff and support a community response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Non-essential care is defined as that which is not time-sensitive for medical reasons, officials said in a release.

UPDATE (9:38 a.m.): Point Park University is postponing its spring graduate hooding and commencement ceremonies, which were scheduled for April 25.

“Graduating students will be contacted soon by their schools and respective programs regarding ideas and suggestions for a virtual commencement for each school or program. The University will continue to explore options for a University-wide, in-person, Commencement ceremony for the entire class of 2020 when conditions allow,” a news release said.

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

UPDATE (9:15 a.m.): The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District has closed select public facilities at all district-managed sites until further notice.

Facilities are closed at the following flood-risk management projects:

Northern Area

  • Berlin Lake
  • East Branch Clarion River Lake
  • Kinzua Dam & Allegheny Reservoir
  • Michael J. Kirwan Dam & Reservoir
  • Mosquito Creek Lake
  • Shenango River Lake
  • Tionesta Lake
  • Woodcock Creek Lake
  • Union City Dam

Southern Area

  • Mahoning Creek Lake
  • Crooked Creek Lake
  • Conemaugh River Lake
  • Loyalhanna Lake
  • Youghiogheny River Lake
  • Tygart Lake
  • Stonewall Jackson Lake

The closures went into effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday and affect the following facilities:

  • Resource Managers’ offices
  • Visitors’ centers
  • Ranger offices
  • Maintenance offices
  • Campground facilities
  • Picnic areas
  • Shelters
  • Pavilions
  • Disc golf
  • Playgrounds
  • Fishing areas/piers
  • Restrooms

During the temporary closure, boat ramps will remain open.

PRESS RELEASE: In the interest of public safety and the well-being of our staff, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers...

Posted by Pittsburgh District, US Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

UPDATE (8:40 a.m.): Duquesne Light Company is donating $500,000 to the Emergency Action Fund to provide relief and support to its customers in Allegheny and Beaver counties.

“At Duquesne Light, we are proud members of the Pittsburgh community and know that together we will overcome the unprecedented challenges ahead of us. Many of our neighbors are struggling with the significant disruption in our community and need support not only with safe and reliable power, but also with other basic needs,” Steve Malnight, president and CEO of DLC, said in a statement.

UPDATE (4:30 a.m.): More than a dozen Allegheny County sheriff’s deputies are in self-isolation while one is quarantined after showing up to work after possibly being exposed to the coronavirus.

The deputy’s son’s girlfriend and her mother recently returned from Spain, Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus said. That deputy was showing possible symptoms of the coronavirus when he went to work Wednesday.

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

Kraus said the deputy was sent to be tested and will be in quarantine for 14 days.

Until the deputy’s test results are back, 15 other deputies are in self-isolation at their homes, according to Kraus. Results are expected to take three to four days.

First coronavirus related death reported in Pennsylvania