TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates April 21

Gov. Wolf plans to reopen state the way he shut it down, county by county

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.

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Cranberry Township cancels Community Days

UPDATE 10:27 p.m.: Cranberry Township Community Days, a festival which draws tens of thousands of people each year, has been canceled because of COVID-19.

“The prudent decision to cancel was deemed appropriate considering the current public health crisis, and with the deepest concern for all those being affected,” organizers said Tuesday.

Planning for Community Days usually begins in January, organizers said, but by canceling this year’s event they are able to get a jumpstart on the 2021 festival, which will take place July 8-10.

Monroeville, Cranberry cancel major summer events because of COVID-19

Monroeville cancels Memorial Day & 4th of July celebrations

UPDATE 5:14 p.m.: Monroeville has canceled their Memorial Day and 4th of July parades, services and fireworks due to the pandemic.

In a Facebook post, the mayor said:

“With great consideration, we have decided to cancel our Memorial Day and 4th of July parades, services, and fireworks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We feel the planning of these very special events would be greatly hindered by the current state wide restrictions.

However, our Memorial Day and 4th of July committees, the Municipality of Monroeville, and Visit Monroeville will be working together to plan a Labor Day weekend celebration!

This will be an event to celebrate our community and country with special regard for our veterans, first responders, health care workers, and businesses in addition to laborers. We feel Labor Day weekend is the perfect match for such a celebration, considering its annual tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. It will take workers along with the entire community to get us through this pandemic, and return us to our normal way of life.

We will release details about this event in the coming months. In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy. We look forward to celebrating with you on Labor Day weekend!”

With great consideration, we have decided to cancel our Memorial Day and 4th of July parades, services, and fireworks...

Posted by Monroeville 4th of July Parade And Fireworks on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Senate approves new coronavirus relief package

UPDATE 5:14 p.m.: The Senate has approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill after Congress reached an agreement with President Donald Trump. The measure would replenish a small business rescue program, provide hospitals with another $75 billion, and implement a nationwide virus testing program to facilitate reopening the economy. Trump has announced his support, saying he’ll sign the bill if it passes both chambers. The package now goes to the House. Most of the funding, more than $300 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Attorney General Josh Shapiro demands 3M tell distributors to stop price gouging healthcare workers

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Shapiro joined 20 other attorneys general calling for the company to encourage its distributors to stop inflating prices for N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment.

3M has kept pricing consistent, but others in the marketplace are price-gouging, a release from Shapiro’s office said.

“Healthcare workers are on the frontlines of this emergency, and must have the protection they need to keep themselves, their patients, and their families safe,” said Attorney General Shapiro.

The letter asks that 3M leadership:

  • Continue to publish policies prohibiting price gouging by its distributors and cease doing business with those distributors who violate them.
  • Create a database of 3M’s inventory of N95 respirators for government officials and healthcare providers.
  • Make transparent how inventory is being distributed and how orders are being filed.

UPMC to start testing all patients

UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: UPMC officials said at a press conference Tuesday that all patients coming to facilities for elective or critical procedures will now be tested for coronavirus.

This applies to both patients who show symptoms and those who do not.

UPMC officials said their hospital system includes 5,500 facilities and 40 hospitals. Currently, COVID-19 patients make up just 2 percent of their capacity. Those patients also make just 8 percent of ICU beds and about 7 percent of all ventilators.

New details from PA Secretary of Health

UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: State officials are working to put together several different reporting systems to get a better picture of coronavirus’ impact in Pennsylvania. That’s why Dr. Levine said the state is now tracking probable cases and probable deaths.

Trends over time are helping state leaders make decisions to keep as many people as safe as possible.

Dr. Levine said the state is working to get antibody testing widespread in Pennsylvania. She said they do not quite know yet what antibody testing means in terms of infection rates, however. A recent study from California using antibody tests showed tens of thousands more people were actually positive for coronavirus. She said it is not a way to diagnose COVID-19 but is a way to track the infection. Dr. Levine said she wants to expand testing in the state even more through the public health laboratory, local hospitals and private labs.

Health experts do not yet know if people who are testing positive could get sick again with coronavirus. Dr. Levine said sometimes the body’s immune response is only a small part and sometimes it fully protects a person. A negative test only shows that a person does not have COVID-19 symptoms on that day. Universal testing is more for surveillance. In terms of clinical care, testing each patient only once will not provide all of the information health leaders need to get an accurate picture of coronavirus.

Dr. Levine said the state has had extensive discussions with UPMC about elective surgeries. Dr. Levine said UPMC is fully on board with the current order regarding elective surgeries, despite the hospital system beginning to start scheduling procedures.

Deal reached for small business relief

UPDATE 1:03 p.m.: A deal has apparently been reached by Congress, the Trump administration and other officials on a nearly $500 billion aid package for small businesses.

The deal could be passed in the Senate by Tuesday afternoon. The House is planning to call lawmakers for a vote later in the week.

Most of the funding, more than $300 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week. Additional help would be given to hospitals, and billions more would be spent to boost testing for the virus, a key step in building the confidence required to reopen state economies.

Another $60 billion would be available for a small-business loans and grants program that has previously been aimed at helping businesses harmed by natural disasters like hurricanes. Additionally, it would bring $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing, according to those involved in the talks.

The government’s Paycheck Protection Program has been swamped by companies applying for loans and reached its appropriations limit last Thursday after approving nearly 1.7 million loans. That left thousands of small businesses in limbo as they sought help. The National Federation of Independent Business, a GOP-friendly organization that advocates for small businesses in Washington, said it had surveyed their members and reported that only 1 in 5 applicants had received money so far.

About $75 billion would go to U.S. hospitals -- those straining under a ballooning coronavirus caseload as well as those struggling to stay financially afloat after suspending elective surgeries during the pandemic. About $25 billion would be added for COVID-19 testing, something states have said was urgently needed.

The SBA loans, based on a company’s payroll costs, offer owners forgiveness if they retain workers or rehire those who have been laid off. The law provides for forgiveness for companies in any industry -- even businesses like hedge funds and law firms. There’s a limit of $100,000 on the amount of employees’ compensation that can be considered when loan forgiveness is calculated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Gov. Wolf plans to reopen state the way he shut it down, county by county

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf said on a media call Tuesday morning that he plans to reopen the state the same way he shut it down, county by county.

Wolf said he will be looking at data including the number of cases, number of new cases and number of deaths. He has to make sure the hospital system can handle any surge. Wolf said he believes people in Pennsylvania have listened and that is why the state is in a good position right now.

He said the unemployment system was completely overwhelmed by the pandemic. Gov. Wolf said the state is investing in new technology and has increased call center staffing to help drop call center wait times. Yesterday, the wait time was 24 minutes. He said the goal is 9 minutes. Over $1 billion in checks has already been issued.

At the state level, Wolf said there is a $4-$5 billion deficit. 9,000 state workers were put on leave or unpaid leave.

“If we’re going to be successful in reopening, it’s going to depend on the ubiquity of our testing, the capacity and how many tests we have all over the state,” Gov. Wolf said.

Tuesday’s numbers from PA Department of Health

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health there are 1,296 additional positive cases of coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number to 34,528 cases.

Here is a breakdown by local counties:

  • Allegheny Co.: 1,059 positive cases, 67 deaths, 11,611 negative tests
  • Butler Co.: 162 positive cases, 6 deaths, 1,840 negative tests
  • Beaver Co.: 303 positive cases, 43 deaths, 1,628 negative tests
  • Washington Co.: 86 positive cases, 2 deaths, 1,577 negative tests
  • Greene Co.: 25 positive cases, 332 negative tests
  • Fayette Co.: 69 positive cases, 3 deaths, 1,376 negative tests
  • Westmoreland Co.: 291 positive cases, 25 deaths, 3,529 negative tests
  • Armstrong Co.: 38 positive cases, 2 deaths, 474 negative tests
  • Indiana Co.: 55 positive cases, 4 deaths, 453 negative tests
  • Clarion Co.: 18 positive cases, 1 death, 382 negative tests
  • Venango Co.: 6 positive cases, 190 negative tests
  • Forest Co.: 7 positive cases, 21 negative tests
  • Lawrence Co.: 60 positive cases, 6 deaths, 537 negative tests
  • Mercer Co.: 59 positive cases, 1 death, 519 negative tests

State officials said there were 360 new deaths attributed to the coronavirus among positive and probable positive cases. There are 132,323 people who have tested negative so far.

Here is a breakdown of coronavirus data related to nursing homes and personal care homes:

  • Allegheny Co.: 34 facilities, 181 cases among residents, 64 cases among employees, 43 deaths
  • Beaver Co.: 3 facilities, 183 cases among residents, 11 cases among employees, 34 deaths
  • Butler Co.: 3 facilities, 10 cases among residents, 9 cases among employees, 2 deaths
  • Washington Co.: 3 facilities, 6 cases among residents, 2 cases among employees, 1 death
  • Fayette Co.: 1 facility, 3 cases among residents, 0 cases among employees, 1 death
  • Westmoreland Co.: 5 facilities, 86 cases among residents, 23 cases among employees, 18 deaths
  • Indiana Co.: 2 facilities, 11 cases among residents, 0 cases among employees, 4 deaths
  • Clarion Co.: 1 facility, 1 case among residents, 0 cases among employees, 0 deaths
  • Mercer Co.: 1 facility, 1 case among residents, 0 cases among employees, 0 deaths

COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County: Tuesday update

UPDATE 11:10 a.m.: There are 17 new confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus in Allegheny County, bringing the total to 1,059, the Allegheny County Health Department announced. Of those cases, 1,034 are confirmed and 25 are probable.

Twelve more deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of deaths confirmed to have been caused by or probably caused by COVID-19 to 67. Officials said 55 deaths were confirmed through positive COVID-19 tests and 12 have a probable cause.

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

Officials said 188 people have been or are currently being hospitalized.

Here is a breakdown of cases by age group:

  • 0-4 years: 2
  • 5-12 years: 4
  • 13-18 years: 10
  • 19-24 years: 77
  • 25-49 years: 373
  • 50-64 years: 297
  • 65+ years: 296

Tips if you’re getting paper stimulus check

UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: If you’re receiving your stimulus money via paper check instead of direct deposit, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities has some tips.

“It is important consumers understand check cashing fees so they keep as much of their money as possible,” Acting Secretary Richard Vague said.

Pittsburgh Promise receives $1.3 million grant to help students

UPDATE 10 a.m.: The Pittsburgh Promise received a $1,325,000 grant to help current seniors in Pittsburgh Public Schools and eligible charter schools, as well as current Promise Scholars, whose education is being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant came from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Funds will be used to help students with the following post-secondary related expenses and needs:

  • Completing applications for post-secondary admission, financial aid and resident life
  • Room deposits and essential dorm needs
  • Co-pays for mental health services
  • Bridge scholarships for those whose parents lost jobs due to the virus and who remain ineligible for Pell or PHEAA funding which is based on prior year’s income
  • Food resources for those experiencing food insecurity

Students and families interested in learning more and applying can CLICK HERE.

State website launched to support local restaurants

UPDATE 9:20 a.m.: CarryoutPA is a full list of restaurants throughout Pennsylvania that are offering takeout, curbside or delivery food service during the state’s stay-at-home order.

The state’s restaurant industry accounts for 10-percent of jobs, so the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association created CarryoutPA as a resource. If a restaurant isn’t included, they can register HERE.

“Restaurants in Pennsylvania and the nation have been hit hard by the mandated closure of dine-in service due to COVID-19,” said John Longstreet, PRLA president & CEO.

DLC extends shutoff discontinuation, waiving of late fees

UPDATE 9 a.m.: Duquesne Light Company is extending its discontinuation of shutoffs, as well as waiving late fees, until at least June 1.

In addition, Duquesne Light has expanded eligibility for its Hardship Fund, meaning over 152,000 of its customers may now qualify for payment assistance on their electric bills.

“Whether it’s due to job layoffs, business closures or increased expenses, we understand there are families who need support today, who just a few days or weeks ago did not need assistance paying their electric bill,” said David Johnson, Chief Customer Officer, Duquesne Light Company. “As we expand the assistance available to our customers in response to the ongoing pandemic, we encourage every customer in need of support to reach out so we can help.”

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Rental, utility, mortgage assistance available to city of Pittsburgh residents

UPDATE 6:45 a.m.: Funding is available for rental and utility assistance through the Housing Opportunity Fund’s Housing Stabilization Program, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh announced.

The HSP provides one-time or short-term (up to three months) financial assistance to households facing a “temporary, non-reoccurring housing crisis, including those affected by the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.”

The URA has partnered with the United Way to help residents in the city of Pittsburgh. In addition to rental and utility assistance, mortgage assistance is also available, though limited.

City of Pittsburgh residents in need of rental, utility or mortgage assistance should contact United Way 2-1-1 for more information on the program.

United Way can be contacted by:

  • Texting your zip code to 898-211
  • Dialing 211 from your phone
  • Calling toll free: 1-866-856-2773
  • Chatroom: http://pa211sw.org/
  • Emailing info@pa211sw.org

For eligibility requirements, CLICK HERE.

Pittsburgh residents can get help with rent, utilities and mortgage

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Tuesday morning

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: Small steps to reopen parts of Pennsylvania’s economy were announced Monday by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Car sales will be able to resume online, some construction projects will be able to resume and curbside pickup has begun at state liquor stores.

A stay-at-home order has been extended until May 8. The order will be rescinded by regions, and social distancing will still be important, Wolf said.

As of Monday, there were 33,232 positive cases of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania and 1,204 deaths. There were 129,720 people who tested negative.

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Gov. Wolf eases rules for online car sales, construction, liquor store curbside pickup