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TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates May 6

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.

State, local leaders on same page regarding corps to contain COVID-19

UPDATE 11 p.m.: One in six Pennsylvanians don’t have a job right now, But Gov. Tom Wolf says he has a plan to fix that while keeping COVID-19 contained into the fall and winter.

Wolf said his plan to get the economy running again while keeping our communities healthy rests in the hands of Pa. residents.

He's creating a commonwealth civilian coronavirus corp. The program is exactly what is sounds like – people hired to work in the public health sector to increase COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

The hope is the spread of coronavirus will be reduced going into the fall and winter months, a second wave potentially avoided.

“To reopen our economy to maximum, we need to boost our ability to contain this highly transmissible virus,” Wolf said during his daily press conference.

Wolf said the program will simultaneously create vital healthcare jobs to get the economy going. It's a step he says puts money in Pennsylvanians’ pockets and helps families get back together.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the director of Allegheny County's health department acknowledged current testing limitations and inequities locally and nationally.

“Getting testing out to every corner of our community has been a challenge,” said Dr. Debra Bogen.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto agreed with the governor about the need for increased tracing and testing capacity, saying he'll do all he can to support the initiative.

The governor stopped short at mentioning specifics about how many Pennsylvanians would be hired for these jobs or a timeline to roll out the program.

Butler County leaders react to Gov. Wolf’s reopening plan

UPDATE 6:00 p.m.: Butler County commissioners say they feel like they’re out of the loop because they have not had any real one-on-one meetings with the governor or his people.

Commissioners Leslie Osche and Kim Geyer met with us moments after the governor wrapped up his news conference Wednesday afternoon. They were supposed to have a meeting with the governor’s higher-ups to try and get some clear-cut answers on contact tracing and reopening the southwest region, but they said the governor's office canceled last minute.

The commissioners believe there’s a lot of missing communication and working together to safely move counties into the yellow zone.

Hear more from them in the video below:

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey calling for the U.S. economy to start reopening now

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Sen. Pat Toomey has called on the governor to immediately allow most of Pennsylvania to resume economic activity.

“I think that we have every reason to be very optimistic that probably the worst is behind us, that we can begin the process of getting back to living our lives,” Toomey said.

Toomey led a round table discussion on Wednesday with health and economic experts on reopening the country with social distancing guidelines in place.

Watch more in the video below:

Washington County commissioners consider legal action over reopening plan

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Two out of three county commissioners in Washington County voted to move forward with taking legal action in hopes of opening up the county faster.

Washington County commissioners are upset they weren't moved into the yellow zone, and they are now hoping to take legal action. Commissioner Diana Ire Vaughan and Nick Sherman are asking their county solicitor to file a lawsuit in district court against Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, saying their constitutional rights — the First and 14th amendments — have been violated. They told Channel 11 they are working with county commissioners across western Pennsylvania.

Commissioner Larry Maggi said he doesn’t feel a lawsuit will help reopen the economy. He fears filing this lawsuit will only cost taxpayers more money and is hopeful they will be moved to yellow in the coming days regardless of any lawsuit.

Hear more from them in the video below:

Westmoreland County leaders asking Gov. Wolf to reconsider leaving county in “red” phase

UPDATE 5:00 p.m.: Westmoreland County leaders are calling out the governor and asking him to reconsider leaving Westmoreland in the “red” phase.

County commissioners signed off on the letter this week, pleading with the state to move its county to yellow. It would allow some manufacturing businesses and retail shops to open, with restrictions.

Channel 11′s Melanie Gillespie talked to county leaders and a small business about what that could mean for the local economy, in the video below:

Allegheny Co. health officials break down who has gotten COVID-19

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, provided new statistics and data on the coronavirus cases in our area.

According to Bogen, the health department tracked 352 new cases between April 20 and May 5:

  • 49 (14%) are healthcare workers.
  • 123 (35%) are residents in long-term care facilities.
  • 36 (10%) are employees at long-term care facilities. These employees are also counted in the healthcare worker data.
  • 178 people (51%) are neither healthcare workers nor residents of long-term care facilities.
  • 245 of 352 (70%) are linked to another known case; 208 are linked to a known cluster of cases and 37 are linked to another known individual case.
  • Of 178 cases that are not healthcare workers or in long-term care centers, 51% are linked to another known individual or cluster.
  • Age break downs follow:

For the 352 cases:

  • Age 0-9: 3 cases (1%)
  • Age 10-19: 4 cases (1%)
  • 20-29: 33 cases (9%)
  • 30-39: 50 cases (14%)
  • 40-49: 46 cases (13%)
  • 50-59: 59 cases (17%)
  • 60-69: 66 cases (19%)
  • 70+: 91 cases (26%)

For the 49 healthcare workers:

  • No cases in HCWs
  • 20-29: 3 cases (6%)
  • 30-39: 9 cases (18%)
  • 40-49: 10 cases (20%)
  • 50-59: 15 cases (31%)
  • 60-69: 10 cases (20%)
  • 70+: 2 cases (4%)

Bogen also said there have been 24 new cases in the Allegheny County Jail since April 20, along with seven new COVID-19 cases from first responders.

Of all new cases, Bogen said 70% were linked to another case.

You can watch the full press conference below:

Mayor Bill Peduto gives update on COVID-19 in Pittsburgh

UPDATE 4:00 p.m.: During a city of Pittsburgh COVID-19 update, Mayor Bill Peduto said he believes the best thing he can do is be flexible and open-minded. He said now that we're starting to see the downturn of the curve, we can start talking about how the city plans to reopen.

"We'll wait first for the governor to make his ruling about southwestern Pennsylvania, and then we will look first and foremost to the safety of our residents as our primary guide in making that decision,” Peduto said.

Peduto says his "North Star" is putting the health of Pittsburghers first.

He said all decisions about when city employees will be allowed back into large buildings will be based on necessity and science and that it's a situation that changes daily.

While most people have complied with the stay-at-home order and nonessential businesses have shut down, Channel 11 has learned some businesses in the city have not complied. They've asked employees to be at work in person without providing personal protective equipment or social distancing measures. Those employees said they've called 311 to notify the city, but nothing has changed.

“Reach out to 311, and whether or not it’s been followed through, we do have a tracking system on that, and there is a possibility that the officers may have shown up and basically caution them. We’re not out to cite individuals the first time we would like to try and give," said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.

Gov. Wolf plans to create Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: The group would support efforts later this year to increase testing and contact tracing, while providing critical new job opportunities in the public health sector.

“​Our highest priority remains protecting public health and safety, but we must also look ahead to see how we can address future needs. To reopen our economy to its maximum potential, we will need to boost our ability to contain this highly transmissible virus,” Governor Wolf said. “The Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps will serve as a public service program that will expand our ability to conduct contact tracing and testing and mobilize Pennsylvanians to contain COVID-19.”

Here’s some of what they will do:

  • Partnering with local public health agencies, community organizations, and the nonprofit community to expand Pennsylvania’s existing testing and contract tracing initiatives;
  • Leveraging additional resources to fund testing and contact tracing initiatives;
  • Exploring creative ways to recruit experienced Pennsylvanians with health care and public health experience to support this initiative; and
  • Coordinating existing resources deployed by the commonwealth, including community health nurses and county health departments who are currently conducting testing and contact tracing throughout the state.

Click here to read more on the governor’s website.

Pittsburgh’s mayor thanks public safety, honors EMS assistant chief

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: He did so by naming today Mark E. Pinchalk Day, he’s the city’s lead planner for the pandemic as the Emergency Medical Services Assistant Chief..

Mayor Bill Peduto also issued him the Mayor Sophie Masloff Employee of the Month Award.

Pinchalk started working with Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich back in January to start planning.

St. Clair Hospital resumes elective testing, surgical procedures

UPDATE 2:25 p.m.: All elective testing and diagnostic procedures resumed this week and elective surgeries will start again Monday.

As of this past Monday, St. Clair Medical Service also again started doing routine in-office care, along with its continued use of telemedicine, according to a release.

Wednesday’s numbers from PA Department of Health

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health there are 888 additional positive cases of coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number to 51,845 cases.

The state is reporting 94 additional deaths. There are now 3,106 deaths in the state.

Of the total cases, 2,995 of them are in our area. Here is a breakdown by local counties:

  • Allegheny Co.: 1,394 cases, 111 deaths
  • Butler Co.: 185 cases, 6 deaths
  • Beaver Co.: 471 cases, 76 deaths
  • Washington Co.: 121 cases, 2 deaths
  • Armstrong Co.: 55 cases, 3 deaths
  • Greene Co.: 27 cases, 1 death
  • Fayette Co.: 84 cases, 4 deaths
  • Westmoreland Co.: 409 cases, 31 deaths (According to the Westmoreland County Coroner)
  • Indiana Co.: 75 cases, 5 deaths
  • Clarion Co.: 23 cases, 1 death
  • Venango Co.: 7 cases
  • Forest Co.: 7 cases
  • Lawrence Co.: 68 cases, 7 deaths
  • Mercer Co.: 69 cases, 1 death

There are 204,495 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;
  • 37% are aged 25-49;
  • Nearly 27% are aged 50-64; and
  • 27% are aged 65 or older.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 10,010 resident cases of COVID-19, and 1,372 cases among employees, for a total of 11,382 at 502 distinct facilities in 44 counties. Out of our total deaths, 2,108 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

Approximately 3,316 of our total cases are in health care workers.

COVID-19 update from the Allegheny County Health Department for Wednesday

UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department reported since March 14, there are now 1,394 cases as of Wednesday. That’s an increase of 19 coronavirus cases over Tuesday. This breaks down to 1,334 positive confirmed cases and 60 probable cases.

There have been two additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 111. Of reported deaths, 101 are confirmed or had a positive test and 10 are probable.

Here is a breakdown of cases by age group:

  • 0-4 years: 4 (less than 1%)
  • 5-12 years: 5 (less than 1%)
  • 13-18 years: 13 (1%)
  • 19-24 years: 94 (7%)
  • 25-49 years: 483 (35%)
  • 50-64 years: 392 (28%)
  • 65+ years: 403 (29%)

There are 247 past or present hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

Free N95 decontamination system for healthcare facilities, first responders now available

Gov. Tom Wolf today announced a program Wednesday that would provide free N95 respirator decontamination systems to healthcare facilities, first responders, and other eligible organizations that may be experiencing a shortage of the respirators.

The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the decontamination and reuse of N95 respirators as needed during a time of crisis. The system uses a vaporous hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate the units.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented shortage of personal protective equipment,” Wolf said. “This critical decontamination service, provided at no cost by the US Department of Health and Human Services, gives us another option for making sure that the people at the forefront of this pandemic have the equipment they need to stay safe.”

Heinz Endowments invests nearly $7 million to advance equity in Pittsburgh area

UPDATE 9:45 a.m.: The Heinz Endowments Board of Directors approved more than $6.7 million in funding for equity-focused projects in the Pittsburgh area, including grants totaling over $2.3 million to support local criminal justice reform efforts.

“The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating issues of poverty and racial inequality in our community at the same time that it is illuminating them,” said Grant Oliphant president of the Endowments. “We will never be able to create the resilient community of the future that we strive for unless we address directly the deep issues of inequity that afflict our community and our nation.”

The criminal justice grants are part of the Endowments’ three-year, $10 million reform initiative called the Restoration Project, which was launched at the end of 2018.

77 Fine Wine & Good Spirits to begin limited in-store public access

UPDATE 9 a.m.: The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced Wednesday that 77 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in counties designated in the yellow phase of COVID-19 will resume limited in-store public access beginning Friday.

Stores will be the following safety measures in place:

  • Stores will limit the number of customers in a store at any time, allowing no more than 25 people (employees and customers) in any location.
  • The first hour each store is open each day will be reserved for customers at high risk for COVID-19, including those 65 years of age and older.
  • Customers and employees will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing, guided by signage throughout the stores.
  • Signage will also direct customers to follow one-way patterns to avoid cross-traffic.
  • Store employees will perform enhanced and frequent cleaning and disinfecting.
  • All sales are final, and no returns will be accepted until further notice.

Before opening to the public, each location was professionally sanitized, and glass was installed at registers to provide a physical barrier between employees and customers.

All employees are being provided masks and gloves.

You can find the list of stores opening Friday, on their website.

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Wednesday morning

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: With many businesses hurting, leaders in several western Pennsylvania counties have joined together in hopes of being allowed to reopen.

In an open letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, leaders from Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties said they are prepared to support residents and business owners in a lawsuit against the state to protect their constitutional rights.

You can read the full letter below.

Wolf said Tuesday his hope is that areas in southwest Pennsylvania can soon move from the red phase into the yellow phase of the state’s reopening plan.

“Southwestern Pennsylvania is doing a really good job, and the hope is again, we’re doing the best we can to keep people safe within the constraints of this deadly virus. We are all at the mercy of the virus,” Wolf said on a call. “The Southwest is doing a good job and the hope is that they can move into the yellow phase like the 24 counties I announced last Friday, fairly quickly. It’s not meant to be any kind of a slight on anybody. I think the southwest is doing a phenomenal job and again we will be making another announcement soon and the hope is that we can move quickly there, and wherever else in Pennsylvania we are making good progress, as we make good progress with this disease to open up and keep people safe. “

As of Tuesday, Pennsylvania had 50,957 cases of the coronavirus and 3,012 deaths statewide. There have been 199,925 people who tested negative for the virus.

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