TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates March 25

Third person in our area dies from coronavirus; statewide cases surge past 1,100

PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania has more than 1,100 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. 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.

UPDATE 9:10 p.m.: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Port Authority announced Wednesday that its downtown service center will temporarily operate on a reduced schedule.

Below is what PAT officials said:

"The Downtown Service Center will operate from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Window transactions at the Service Center will be limited to the replacement of ConnectCards. Fees for such transactions will be waived.

Customers who need to purchase fare products are asked to use the ConnectCard web portal or a ConnectCard machine to limit person-to-person interactions.

Also due to current events, Port Authority is temporarily suspending the issuance of Senior ConnectCards. The Senior ConnectCard program will resume once the COVID-19 situation has ended."

UPDATE 8:20 p.m.: The Western Pa. Diaper Bank is supporting workers impacted by the economic fallout from COVID-19. It distributed 24,000 diapers to low and moderate-income families last week.

Also, the organization is hosting a series of emergency virtual donation drives on a GoFundMe page. Find out more here.

UPDATE 7:15 p.m.: Mayor Bill Peduto released himself from self-quarantine Wednesday after attending a conference in Washington, D.C. where two people tested positive for COVID-19.

Peduto said he’s proud of the response from Pittsburghers and offered a message.

“Thank you for understanding the science and understanding that we are in a pandemic,” said Peduto.

As the cases rise, the mayor said the city has now reserved several hundred hotel rooms to quarantine city employees like first responders who may have come into contact with the virus.

Mayor Peduto speaks about his experience in quarantine

UPDATE 7 p.m.: The state’s general assembly approved a bill that could provide several options for Pennsylvania’s education secretary. And it’s close to becoming a reality.

Senate bill 751 would allow state education secretary Pedro Rivera to waive the 180-day requirement for all public and non-public schools immediately.

It would also allow the secretary to close all schools until the threat the coronavirus pandemic has ended. The bill would also provide a continued pay to any school employee working as of March 13.

Rivera said if the trends continue to show increased numbers of the virus, the timeline of schools reopening by April 9 could be extended.

New bill could allow pa lawmakers to eliminate 180 day rule for students

UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman had a simple message for everyone in Pennsylvania as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic: wash your hands, stay home and don’t panic.

In a one-on-one interview, Fetterman told Channel 11 he understands the stress the stay-at-home order and the closing of non-life-essential businesses is having statewide.

But he said fighting the coronavirus is about striking the appropriate balance between lives and livelihoods.

“We are prepared for this. It’s going to get worse, then it’s going to get better, and then we’re all going to get back to normal," he said. "Listen to the scientists, not the politicians. That’s what I know the governor is doing, and that’s what we’re all doing in Pennsylvania.”

'Listen to the scientists.' Lt. Gov. Fetterman urges people to stay home to prevent coronavirus spread

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: St. Vincent College is helping fill the gap for health care workers in need of supplies. In just over 24 hours, the school collected gloves, masks and more to donate to those on the front lines.

“I wondered if we would be able to donate and give some of the supplies from our science laboratories to the first responders,” Stephen Jodis, Dean of the Boyer School at St. Vincent, said.

The supplies are going directly to those on the front lines to Westmoreland county public safety and Conemaugh Home Health System.

UPDATE 4:47 p.m.: The Wolf Administration submitted a waiver to the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive the student eligibility criteria for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“College students did not expect a global pandemic to determine the remainder of their semester, and like all Pennsylvanians, they, too, are feeling its effects,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “But for students in need of food, this time can be especially daunting, as they cannot properly prepare for the future without having their most basic needs met. The federal government’s approval of this waiver would ensure our students are continuing to be fed and lessen the burden of this unprecedented public health emergency.”

“Students should not have to worry about where their next meal will come from even though many colleges and universities are closed. The Wolf Administration wants to ensure that college students’ and their families’ access to food is not hindered if resources are limited,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We are urging the federal government to approve this waiver so our college students can have food and be safe during COVID-19 mitigation efforts.”

Right now, federal regulations state that an individual who is enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education shall be ineligible to participate in SNAP unless they qualify for an exemption or are employed for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

UPDATE 4:52 p.m.: The Central Outreach has reported their coronavirus test results, which include the drive-thru testing done at COWC North Shore, Aliquippa and the Pittsburgh Zoo parking lot.

This data is representative of Central Outreach’s COVID-19 testing initiative that began March 16, 2020. The total...

Posted by Central Outreach Wellness Center on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

UPDATE 4:02 p.m.: The first coronavirus-related death has been confirmed in Butler County by Butler Health System officials.

BHS officials said the person died at Butler Memorial Hospital.

The first two deaths in our area were in Allegheny County.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: The Cultural Trust has canceled or postponed performances, exhibitions, films, and events through May 1.

UPDATE 3:09 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that new funding is available for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

It’s through a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s (PIDA) Small Business First Fund, the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA).

The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) recently authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Small Business First Fund for CWCA. PIDA authorized making $60 million available to provide loans of $100,000 or less to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees.

Funds are expected to become available this week.

"My top priority is to save Pennsylvania lives, then save their livelihoods. I am utilizing every resource available to assist Pennsylvania's business during this incredibly difficult time, and this small business funding availability is a step in the right direction. It will help provide a little peace of mind to hundreds of small business owners and their employees," Wolf said. "I will continue to develop ways to assist Pennsylvania’s business community, as well as our workforce. I also need every Pennsylvanian to step up and do their part. The best way we can preserve our economic future is by minimizing the spread of COVID-19."

“In the wake of the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that state government is trying to respond to all manner of its impacts, and that includes providing support to our small business community,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. “The CFA took necessary and swift action to provide low interest loans to small businesses to help keep them afloat during these difficult times. I commend the leadership of Governor Wolf and the other caucuses of the General Assembly for working together so quickly to come up with a viable plan to provide this assistance.”

UPDATE 2:28 p.m.: Channel 11′s Jennifer Tomazic reached out to Giant Eagle after viewers said they weren’t able to schedule grocery pick ups or deliveries.

Giant Eagle spokesperson Dick Roberts provided the following statement:

“There has been extraordinary demand for our curbside pickup and delivery services during these challenging times, and our Team Members are working tirelessly to meet the needs of our communities. We understand that pickup and delivery spots are filling up rather quickly, and are exploring creative ways to potentially increase order capacity. We continue to focus on hiring efforts throughout the region with many positions available within our curbside departments.”

UPDATE 2:23 p.m.: The Butler County Board of Commissioners has extended the declaration of disaster of emergency for Butler County.

The initial declaration was made on March 18 and was in effect for seven days. The extension will last until a disaster situation no longer exists.

UPDATE 2:04 p.m.: The Chief Growth Office at the Indiana Regional Medical Center said they have received results from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and now have their first positive case of coronavirus in Indiana County.

Officials said the patient has been notified, has been in self-quarantine since March 16 and has not required hospitalization.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m.: There are 276 additional positive cases of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, bringing the total to 1,127, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

In addition to the new cases, four more deaths have been reported. The statewide death total is now at 11.

Here is a breakdown of cases in western Pennsylvania counties:

  • Allegheny County: 88
  • Fayette County: 4
  • Washington County: 10
  • Beaver County: 7
  • Butler County: 12
  • Lawrence County: 1
  • Westmoreland County: 16
  • Mercer County: 2
  • Greene County: 2
  • Armstrong County: 1

There are 11,193 patients who have tested negative, the Department of Health said.

UPDATE 11:09 a.m.: Thirty new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Allegheny County, bringing the total to 88, according to the Allegheny County Health Department. Thirteen people are hospitalized.

Here is a breakdown by age group:

  • 0-4 years: 1
  • 5-12 years: 1
  • 13-18 years: 2
  • 19-24 years: 15
  • 25-49 years: 30
  • 50-64 years: 25
  • 65+ years: 14

The Health Department said 55 percent of the cases are females and 45 percent are males.

UPDATE 11:02 a.m.: Seventeen more businesses were given warning for not complying with Gov. Tom Wolf’s order for non-life-sustaining businesses to close, Pennsylvania State Police said.

The 17 new warnings were given Tuesday, bringing the total since Monday to 44.

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UPDATE 10:50 a.m.: An emergency school code amendment is expected to be voted on Wednesday in Pennsylvania.

The amendment to Senate Bill 751 was added by the House Appropriations Committee.

Included in the amendment is the waiving of the 180-day requirement for schools and allowing the secretary of education to close all school entities until the threat of the coronavirus pandemic is over.

UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: The 28th Annual Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure has been postponed until Sept. 13 at Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park. It was originally scheduled for May 10.

“The health and safety of our community always has been and always will be our top priority, therefore, we are rescheduling the Race until later this year,” Kathy Purcell, chief executive officer of Komen Greater PA, said. “Women and men will not stop being diagnosed with breast cancer. Now is not the time to walk away from our mission. That is why it is imperative that the Race goes on. People throughout Pennsylvania are depending on us.”

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: A staff member of the Kane Community Living Centers’ Glen Hazel facility tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

“One of our staff members has tested positive for COVID-19. The staff person does not provide direct care or has not had direct resident contact and has not worked since last Thursday, March 19, 2020. All protocols recommended by the Health Department are being followed and, where appropriate, additional testing has occurred,” Dennis Biondo, Director of the Kane Community Living Centers, said in a statement.

Biondo’s statement went on to say there are no positive COVID-19 cases among residents or staff that have direct contact with residents.

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UPDATE 9:45 a.m.: Pennsylvania will allow retired health care professionals help with response to the coronavirus by waiving certain licensing regulations, the Department of State announced.

“Many retired and inactive health care professionals want to help bolster our health care system during this crisis,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “This action will allow people with inactive or retired licenses in good standing to reactivate their licenses and immediately lend their assistance in this challenging time. We thank these retirees for their willingness to serve.”

UPDATE 8:45 a.m.: A lawsuit has been filed against Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine over the governor’s order for all non-life-sustaining businesses in the state to close.

In the lawsuit, political candidate Daniel DeVito, a real-estate agent, B&J Laundry LLC, Blueberry Hill Public Golf Course & Lounge and Caledonia Land Company argue they should be allowed to continue conducting business.

The lawsuit claims the “businesses can be conducted in such a way that does not conflict with the governor’s stated purpose for his order because petitioners can employ COVID-19 prevention and mitigation practices in their physical offices.”

It is argued in the lawsuit that Constitutional rights were violated by Wolf’s order.

UPDATE 8:05 a.m.: Pittsburgh garbage collectors are refusing to do trash pickup, claiming they are not being protected during the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers gathered Wednesday morning outside the Pittsburgh Bureau of Environmental Services building on Railroad Street in the Strip District.

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: The Port Authority of Allegheny County is reducing weekday service starting Wednesday as it works to keep riders and drivers safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

Bus and light rail service will be reduced by about 25 percent. Officials said ridership has dropped by more than 50 percent over the last two weeks.

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Riders will now enter and exit buses using the rear doors to help limit contact with drivers. The front doors will only be used for people who need a ramp or require special seating.

In addition, the way passengers pay is being changed.

Cash fares will not be collected. Riders will show their Connect Card or other fare product to the driver when they enter the back doors. However, people who use the light rail will still be able to pay at onboard and offboard fare boxes.

Local doctors say they feel prepared for influx of patients with coronavirus symptoms