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TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates April 23

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.

Washington, Westmoreland County leaders looking forward to reopening

Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli is optimistic about a possible re-opening.

Right now, the county has 307 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 27 deaths.

“We have about 350,000 constituencies in Westmoreland County, and looking at the governor’s plan that would allow us to have up to 175 new positive corona cases over the next two weeks,” said Cerilli.

Washington County has just under 90 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two deaths with a populations of about 200,000.

“We believe in Washington County we’ve been very responsible. Our numbers have been lower than most other counties, and we think that we’re ready to put a plan in place to responsibly and safely reopen our businesses,” said Diana Irey Vaughan, chairman of the Washington County Board.

Breaking down the local number of cases in relation to reopening

UPDATE 7:15 p.m.: Gov. Wolf has said health leaders in Pennsylvania are looking for regions to have less than 50 news cases on average over 14 days before they can move from the red stage to the yellow stage. Below is where some counties in our area currently stand:

  • Target: 0.05%
  • Allegheny: 0.005%
  • Westmoreland: 0.002%
  • Washington: 0.002%
  • Beaver: .001%

Allegheny Co. leader optimistic about partial reopening in early May

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told Channel 11’s Rick Earle he’s been in constant contact with the governor’s office, and he’s optimistic about the planned reopening on May 8.

“I think there could be certain things that (Allegheny County) could be ready for May 8, and I think you are going to see that. Certainly, you are going to see that in construction. You could see it in certain operations,” Fitzgerald said.

According to Fitzgerald, Gov. Tom Wolf is now evaluating a 12-county region in Southwestern Pennsylvania that includes Allegheny County – looking for an average of 50 new cases per 100,000 residents or lower during the two week period in order to reopen.

“I think for this region that would be about 1,300 or 1,400 positive tests under that level over that period of time. But again, I'm not sure how many tests need to be run to meet that qualification,” said Fitzgerald.

Wolf didn't provide specifics on testing but said Thursday he plans to begin reopening those areas with fewer cases beginning May 8.

Under the plan, most businesses and daycares would be allowed to resume operations on May 8, but gyms and entertainment venues would remain closed – and restaurants would still be takeout only.

Wolf cautions that some counties with fewer cases may not be allowed to reopen because they’re adjacent to hotspots and worries residents may travel to those areas, spreading the virus.

The governor said Thursday that he will allow all construction work across the state to resume on May 1 as long as they abide by social distancing guidelines.

Wolf also said he reserves the right to shut down areas if numbers spike again.

9th Port Authority employee tests positive for COVID-19

UPDATE 5:05 p.m.: Another Port Authority employee has tested positive for coronavirus, company officials announced Thursday.

The employee who just tested positive works in maintenance at its West Mifflin garage, bringing the total to five employees who work at that location to test positive.

Below is the full release from Port Authority officials:

"Port Authority of Allegheny County has received confirmation that a maintenance employee who works at its West Mifflin garage has tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases to nine Port Authority employees, including five who work in maintenance at this location.

The employee last worked on Monday, April 20, 2020, and has been at home in quarantine since then.

After consulting with union leadership, Port Authority has decided to further reduce the number of maintenance employees working during each shift and will once again bring in a contractor to clean and disinfect the facility.

Beginning Sunday, all employees at this location will have their temperatures taken before starting their shift. Any employee with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will be sent home, with pay.

The Authority is continuing to work with public health officials to implement any additional recommendations and will also reinforce with all employees recommended hygiene protocols and social distancing guidelines.

“First and foremost, on behalf of the Board and all of our employees, we wish our coworkers a speedy recovery,” said Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman. “We are obviously very concerned about the recent spate of cases at West Mifflin and are working with union leadership to do everything we can to ensure no one else falls ill.”

Port Authority has sought to minimize the spread of the virus by disinfecting vehicles more frequently, promoting social distancing, having customers board from the back doors, limiting the number of passengers on vehicles, and asking riders to cover their faces when riding.

The Authority has more than 2,600 employees, including 1,300 operators and 800 mechanics. As of today, Port Authority had 85 employees being held out of work pending COVID-19 testing. Forty-nine employees have returned to work since testing negative."

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine explains how state is reporting deaths

UPDATE 1:30 p.m: Earlier this week, the state started to include data about probably cases using a definition from the CDC.

When a case is confirmed, it means there is a positive test result for both case counts and death statistics.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said some probable cases being reported are still under investigation and data is still being gathered. Some probable cases will remain probable – especially in death cases – because they may not be able to get a confirmed test.

Levine explained the drop in cases today was because some probable need further review and information before they can say they’re COVID-19 related.

She said the state will be using confirmed cases, not probable, when making decisions about when regions will reopen.

Click to watch her full news conference below:

Mayor Peduto joined officials from United Kingdom and Sweden to prepare for post-pandemic economy

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto represented the United States in an international discussion on transitioning to a climate-friendly economy.

“Pittsburgh is a leading example of how turning to a knowledge-based economy can not only help our planet and our businesses, but provide new economic opportunities for the workers who built our region and others like it around the world. Doing this planning now will only make us stronger once our fractured economies reset for the post COVID-19 world,” Peduto said.

Mayor Peduto shared with policymakers his proposals for an “American Marshall Plan,” which includes a call for major investments by the federal government in climate-friendly, non fossil fuel powered industries and jobs.

“Workers across Western Pennsylvania and the rest of the Rust Belt built this country, and they are poised to rebuild it once more for the 21st Century — we just have to give them the support to do so. This pandemic is hitting the reset button on the entire global economy, and the United States needs to be a leader in smart economic innovation that will lead to industries that are both more sustainable and profitable, and to a rebirth of the American middle class,” Mayor Peduto said.

Thursday’s numbers from PA Department of Health

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health there are 1,369 additional positive cases of coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number to 37,053 cases. Officials said there are 1,394 confirmed deaths in the state.

Secretary of Health Rachel Levine will be providing more information on probable deaths during her briefing at 1:30 p.m. today. You can watch that on our WPXI Now streaming apps.

The department said it is continuing to work to increase the types of cases that are being added to the state’s death case counts.

Of the total cases, 2,384 of them are in our area. Here is a breakdown by local counties:

  • Allegheny Co.: 1,149 cases, 69 deaths
  • Butler Co.: 164 cases, 6 deaths
  • Beaver Co.: 319 cases, 46 deaths
  • Washington Co.: 92 cases, 2 deaths
  • Greene Co.: 25 cases
  • Fayette Co.: 71 cases, 3 deaths
  • Westmoreland Co.: 307 cases, 26 deaths (According to the Westmoreland County Coroner)
  • Armstrong Co.: 43 cases, 2 deaths
  • Indiana Co.: 59 cases, 4 deaths
  • Clarion Co.: 20 cases, 1 death
  • Venango Co.: 7 cases
  • Forest Co.: 7 cases
  • Lawrence Co.: 61 cases, 5 deaths
  • Mercer Co.: 60 cases, 1 death

There are 142,061 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 6% are aged 19-24;
  • Nearly 39% are aged 25-49;
  • Nearly 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 25% are aged 65 or older.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 5,679 resident cases of COVID-19, and 673 cases among employees, for a total of 6,352 at 408 distinct facilities in 39 counties. Out of our total deaths, 849 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County: Thursday update

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.: There are 61 new confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus in Allegheny County, bringing the total to 1,149, the Allegheny County Health Department announced. Of those cases, 1,119 are confirmed and 30 are probable.

The total number of deaths confirmed to have been caused by or probably caused by COVID-19 is 69. Officials said 62 deaths were confirmed through positive COVID-19 tests and 7 have a probable causes.

There are 5 fewer deaths reported in Allegheny County, after a review of the deaths reported Wednesday revealed a number of duplicate reports.

All deaths are people between the ages of 42 and 103, the Health Department said.

Officials said 204 people have been or are currently being hospitalized.

Here is a breakdown of cases by age group:

  • 0-4 years: 4
  • 5-12 years: 4
  • 13-18 years: 10
  • 19-24 years: 81
  • 25-49 years: 401
  • 50-64 years: 323
  • 65+ years: 326

Allegheny Health Network opens seventh drive-up collection site for COVID-19 testing

Update 10:00 a.m.: Allegheny Health Network is opening another drive-up testing site. This one will be in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

The new location at Heights Plaza in Natrona Heights, will initially be open to patents on Friday starting at 9 a.m.

Starting next week, the location will be open on Tuesday and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Only patients who have been evaluated by an AHN-affiliated health care provider for COVID-19 symptoms and who have a valid prescription order from their doctor will be tested. On-demand or walk-up testing is not available at this location.

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Thursday morning

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: A plan for reopening Pennsylvania in three stages was announced Wednesday by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The stages are color-coded as follows:

  • Red: This is where we currently are. Stay-at-home orders remain in place and only life-sustaining businesses are allowed to be open.
  • Yellow: This stage will allow more businesses to open up following social distancing guidelines. Under this stage, businesses where people gather will continue with current operations. This means restaurants will be limited to takeout.
  • Green: This stage will be the most open, with the stay-at-home order lifted and most businesses allowed to reopen. Wolf said all businesses and individuals will still be required to follow CDC guidelines.

>>STORY: What to expect as Pa. starts to reopen from COVID-19 shutdown

As of Wednesday, Pennsylvania had 35,684 cases of the coronavirus statewide and 1,622 deaths. There have been 136,272 people who have tested negative for the virus.

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