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TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates May 19

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.

Local food distributor getting $3.8 million from U.S. Department of Ag

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: Paragon Wholesale Foods in Warrendale is set to receive $3,816,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in connection with the Farmers to Families Food Box program.

Under the program, the distributor will be able to hire back employees and even add additional staff to help pack produce boxes for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Cranberry Twp. Waterpark not opening yet

UPDATE 3:21 p.m.: The Waterpark and Camp Cranberry will not open this coming weekend for the Memorial Day holiday, Cranberry Township officials said.

Officials said since Butler County is still in the Yellow Phase, the facilities cannot open. Should the county enter the Green Phase by June 15, the Township said they will prepare to open the Waterpark by July 1.

Cranberry Township is committed to opening its recreational facilities, including the Waterpark and Camp Cranberry, as...

Posted by Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Real estate industry allowed conduct limited business in PA

UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: Gov. Wolf today said the real estate industry was allowed to begin conducting limited business in the state. Previously, only yellow areas of the state were allowed to conduct real estate business.

All in-person activities should be scheduled and limited to no more than the real estate professional and two people inside a property at any time, exercising appropriate social distancing.

When conducting settlements/closings utilize remote notary, powers of attorney or the exchange of contract documents electronically or by mail wherever possible. Where it is not possible to conduct settlement/ closing via remote notary or POA, attendance in-person must be limited to required signatories and their legal counsel or real estate professional only, and steps to preserve social distancing must be followed to the maximum extent possible.

Businesses and employees are also encouraged to provide sellers with relevant safety information and protocols for cleaning and sanitizing properties; utilize electronic marketing as much as possible; provide all individuals at an in-person activity with a verbal health screening; stagger scheduling of property showings; avoid physical contact with the property by staging in advance to prevent the need for interaction with items like lights, interior doors, drapes and blinds; and minimize time spent in the property by having discussions away from the property via remote means.

Gov. Wolf vetoes county control bill, 2 others

UPDATE 2:49 p.m.: Gov. Wolf vetoed three bills Tuesday.

Senate Bill 327 would allow counties to develop and put in place their own COVID-19 plans and decide when businesses within their own county could reopen, among other things.

House Bill 2388 would allow car dealerships to be granted a waiver in red counties under the coronavirus reopening plan. House Bill 2412 would allow real estate services to continue in red counties as well.

“Since the beginning of this month, my administration has been gradually transitioning counties from the restrictive red phase to an intermediate yellow phase,” Wolf wrote. “The decisions to move counties from the red phase to the yellow phase are based on the advice of expert epidemiologists. These decisions are not based just on the number of cases of COVID-19, but are also based on other critical factors, such as how community members interact, the county’s number of potential transmission points, a county’s geographic location, the capacity to undertake contact tracing, and testing availability.”

State releases COVID-19 nursing home data

UPDATE 1:50 p.m.: The state has released the data breakdown of nursing homes and long term care facilities in Pennsylvania.

>>>RELATED: State releases COVID-19 data for nursing homes, long term care facilities

The data provides the number of cases, number of employee cases and number of deaths that have occurred at each facility. For facilities with less than five in any of these data points, the information is redacted.

There are 557 facilities named in the state report.


Pennsylvania Health Department update for Tuesday

UPDATE 12:15 p.m.: Pennsylvania has more than 63,666 positive cases of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. There are 610 additional positive cases.

There have been an additional 119 deaths in Pennsylvania. The total number of people who have died of COVID-19 across the state to 4,624. To date, 286,034 tests have come back negative.

Locally there are 3,430 cases in western Pennsylvania:

  • Allegheny Co.: 1,658 cases
  • Armstrong Co.: 58 cases
  • Beaver Co.: 534 cases
  • Butler Co.: 206 cases
  • Clarion Co.: 24 cases
  • Fayette Co.: 92 cases
  • Forest Co.: 7 cases
  • Greene Co.: 27 cases
  • Indiana Co.: 86 cases
  • Lawrence Co.: 73 cases
  • Mercer Co.: 96 cases
  • Venango Co.: 8 cases
  • Washington Co.: 130 cases
  • Westmoreland Co.: 431 cases

Gov. Wolf, Treasurer Torsella announce property tax/rent rebates arriving early to help seniors, others during COVID-19 Pandemic

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: Rebates will start going out Wednesday for older homeowners, renters and people with disabilities through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Gov. Wolf and Treasurer Joe Torsella made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday.

Rebates usually sent around the start of July, but they are going out early to help people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The application deadline for the program this year has been pushed back to Dec. 31, 2020.

The distribution of rebates by the Department of Revenue and Treasury is different than prior years. Rather than a large distribution of rebates on July 1, rebates will be processed and distributed on a first-in-first-out basis. This gradual process means some claimants will receive their rebates earlier than others. Applicants who included their bank account information on their Property Tax/Rent Rebate application form (PA-1000) will receive their rebates through direct deposit. Applicants who requested a paper check to be mailed to them should expect to receive their payment in the mail.

More than $255 million in property tax and rent rebates were sent to almost 532,000 homeowners and renters across the state for property taxes and rent paid in 2017. This is the most recent data available for a full calendar year.​

Nearly 78% of all coronavirus deaths in Allegheny Co. are in long-term care facilities

UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department reported since March 14, there are now 1,658 cases as of Tuesday. That’s an increase of 17 coronavirus cases over Monday. This breaks down to 1,569 positive confirmed cases and 89 probable cases.

There has been one additional death, bringing the total number coronavirus deaths in Allegheny County to 144. Of reported deaths, 133 are confirmed or had a positive test and 11 are probable.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 408 residents and 113 staff members at 37 long-term care facilities in Allegheny County have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 112 deaths at those facilities.

Here is a breakdown of cases by age group:

  • 0-4 years: 6 (less than 1%)
  • 5-12 years: 6 (less than 1%)
  • 13-18 years: 17 (1%)
  • 19-24 years: 107 (7%)
  • 25-49 years: 548 (33%)
  • 50-64 years: 458 (28%)
  • 65+ years: 516 (31%)

There are 304 past or present hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

There has been one additional death, bringing the total number coronavirus deaths in Allegheny Coiunty to 144. Of reported deaths, 133 are confirmed or had a positive test and 11 are probable.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 408 residents and 113 staff members at 37 long-term care facilities in Allegheny County have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 112 deaths at those facilities.

DCNR announces plans to reopen more state park, forest facilities

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced Tuesday a a phased reopening of more state park and forest facilities in keeping with Governor Wolf’s direction to ensure Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation and help maintain positive physical and mental health.

In the latest counties announced as yellow May 15, as well as earlier additional counties announced as yellow, park and forest offices will open May 22. Tent and RV camping also will open May 22. Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts in most recent rounds of announced yellow counties will open June 12.

In counties first announced as yellow, park and forest district offices and tent and RV camping reopened May 15. Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts will open June 12.

For more information about which facilities are open, there is a list on the DCNR website or you can see what is open across Pennsylvania with their interactive map.

The Butler County Parks and Recreation department also announced the phased reopening of Alameda Park.

  • May 30 – Pavilion rentals, Dog Park and Restrooms
  • June 8 – Summer Camp
  • July 1 – Waterpark – pending federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance

All Playgrounds will remain closed until further notice.

PA Health Dept. responds to local coroner’s claims of inflated COVID-19 deaths

UPDATE 8:30 a.m.: The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a response Tuesday the Armstrong County coroner’s post on Facebook that claimed the total number of deaths in the county had been inflated by the department.

The PA Department of Health issued the following statement:

"The department has been working closely with the coroners and trying to assist them. We know that with 67 different coroners and medical examiners, there may be some inconsistencies.

The death data was updated yesterday and is now being reported through EDRS, not NEDSS. Death data is now broken out on its own page:

This will cause some shifts in data on the death data page. Death that was being reported through NEDSS may have included some deaths in a county that would differ from what a coroner would communicate. This may be due to nursing home deaths that occurred in the county, but the actual legal residence of the decedent being in another county.

We are continuing our reconciliation work to bring in data from various sources. We are working to provide real-time data to the public with daily reporting of cases and deaths. Some of the reconciliation and behind-the-scenes data analysis that takes days and weeks is being done on a regular basis, and that can lead to fluctuations in the data. For example, the work done to reconcile death data has brought the state very close to the same total that Philadelphia has.

We feel confident that as COVID-19 cases and deaths slow down, the data reported by the department will match that of other data sources, such as county health departments and county coroners. It is important to note that they will have this data in advance of the state, and must then report it to us.

As indicated in the Coroner’s statement, the death data on our website also matches up with what is the coroner is reporting."

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Tuesday morning

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: As of Monday, there was a total of 63,056 COVID-19 cases and 4,505 deaths statewide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. There have been 277,553 people who tested negative for the virus.

Of the state’s 63,056 COVID-19 cases, 3,341 have been in western Pennsylvania. Of the state’s 4,505 deaths, 294 have been in western Pennsylvania.

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The Armstrong County coroner posted on Facebook Monday claiming the total number of deaths in the county had been inflated by the Department of Health.

According to the post, the state had been reporting six COVID-19 deaths in Armstrong County when the number should have been two.

“Where and how they came up with this number is unknown to me. The correct number for Armstrong County is two,” the post said. “As to their motives behind inflating the numbers, I haven’t a clue. However, I am positive that other counties are in the same position.”

Over the past two decades, serving both as Deputy Coroner and Coroner, I, as well as the staff of my office have always...

Posted by Armstrong County Coroner's Office on Monday, May 18, 2020

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sent three teams to Pennsylvania to help assist with the state’s coronavirus response. It’s unclear exactly where the teams are working, but two are working with long-term care facilities and one is assisting food facility outbreaks.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the teams will be here for two weeks to help assess the situation, teach infection control practices and offer training on personal protective equipment and outbreak response.