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.
UPDATE 11 p.m.: A growing problem in our area: personal protective equipment littered on the ground instead of in trash cans.
Gloves, masks and wipes can be seen lying on sidewalks, streets, parking lots and even yards in neighborhoods across the city of Pittsburgh.
“It’s just really discouraging and depressing seeing all the trash everywhere,” said Jessica Lavecchia, a Lawrenceville resident. “I think in a 15-minute period, I saw 20 to 30 gloves along the back of Smallman Street.”
Mary Weidner is not only tired of it, she is doing something about it.
She started an Instagram page documenting her efforts to keep Pittsburgh clean. Once COVID-19 hit our area, Weidner began to tackle a different kind of litter.
“If I have a glove I’ll just use a glove to pick it up and get it out,” she said.
A representative from Mayor Bill Peduto’s office told Channel 11 that communities across the nation are experiencing this problem because of massive PPE use.
The mayor’s office is asking residents not to litter and to be mindful of the health of others – including public works personnel.
UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: Duquesne University became the second local college to announce it plans on reopening its classrooms for the fall 2020 semester.
On the university’s website, officials said the plan is to begin classes in person as scheduled on August 24.
This plan isn’t final, but university officials said they will do everything they can to maintain normal operations in the upcoming academic year.
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Pennsylvania state police gave a preview of how proactive they will be in enforcing Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders when most local counties open up a bit. They will let local municipal police take the lead but not always.
With most area counties except for Beaver County partially reopening in two days, state police said they will go from reactive to a more proactive position.
So, what does that mean? That means maximum visibility. More folks outside means more cars on the road. Plan to see more state troopers patrolling the parkways.
State police have additional troopers ready to assist local police departments to maintain the peace should problems pop up.
They won’t be out looking to crack down on large gatherings or business violators but will still respond to calls for criminal activity.
In rural areas, like in Beaver County, state police are first responders and will enforce the governor’s orders. State troopers will look for “willful violations that put the public at risk,” such as underage drinking parties, disorderly conduct or repeated calls for non-compliance.
Since the stay-at-home order went into effect April 1, state police in our area have not issued a single violation.
UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: In Allegheny County, preparations are underway for the move to the yellow phase on Friday.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald urged people as they go back to work to be courteous, responsible and stay at least six feet away from others. He said it’s critical, especially in densely populated areas like downtown, Oakland and the South Side.
Fitzgerald also urged businesses to stagger shifts in an effort to limit the number of employees. He’s worried about people packing into small offices and elevators.
“We hope we don’t see an increase in cases when we gradually reopen," said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.
The county health department plans to use the medical reserve corps to help with contact tracing, but Bogen expressed concern about reopening on Friday.
“I think I worry in my own mind that people say we no longer have a stay-at-home order, and that means we should go out and have huge events,” Bogen said. “This is a very limited opening, and if people don’t adhere and we go crazy and have big parties and large groups, we are going to see a lot of spread.”
Bogen also said testing has expanded with the ability to conduct up to 500 per day.
To help with contact tracing – efforts to track and control the spread of the virus – she said the health department will mobilize the medical reserve corps.
The health department plans to train 50 members of the medical reserve corps to help with contact tracing, but they said they may not need all the volunteers if residents abide by the guidelines as they return to work.
You can watch the full press conference below:
UPDATE 3:05 p.m.: Pennsylvania restaurants, struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic, would be able to serve to-go cocktails under a new bill.
The legislation, passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in April and the Senate of Wednesday, would allow restaurants and stores with R- and H-licenses who have lost 25% or more of their business during the COVID-19 outbreak, to sell the to-go cocktails.
The bill will now be sent to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for his signature.
UPDATE 2:44 p.m.: Pennsylvania has received $523.8 million in one-time federal emergency funds from the U.S. Department of Education to help schools respond to COVID-19 impacts.
“Our schools and educators have been working tirelessly to help students and their families during this crisis,” said Governor Wolf. “These efforts must be paired with investments that reflect the unprecedented scale of this challenge. USDE’s approval of Pennsylvania’s application is an important first step in securing those investments.”
UPDATE 12:47 p.m.: Robert Morris said they plan on reopening their campus this fall in a letter to students, faculty and staff.
The school said it will use physical distancing measures, health and wellness monitoring and other requirements to ensure the health and well-being of everyone on campus. It said they will also follow guidelines, policies and requirements set forth by the Allegheny County Health Department, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
RMU will provide additional details regarding these plans within the next few weeks.
UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: Pennsylvania has 58,698 positive cases of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. There are 707 additional positive cases. There are 137 additional coronavirus deaths over the past few weeks, bringing the state total to 3,943. To date, 244,171 tests have come back negative.
Locally there are 3,230 cases in western Pennsylvania, and 284 deaths. Here is the break down by county:
- Allegheny Co.: 1,545 cases, 139 deaths
- Armstrong Co.: 56 cases, 5 deaths
- Beaver Co.: 509 cases, 78 deaths
- Butler Co.: 197 cases, 6 deaths
- Clarion Co.: 24 cases, 1 death
- Fayette Co.: 85 cases, 4 deaths
- Forest Co.: 7 cases, 0 deaths
- Greene Co.: 27 cases, 1 death
- Indiana Co.: 78 cases, 5 deaths
- Lawrence Co.: 71 cases, 7 deaths
- Mercer Co.: 78 cases, 2 death
- Venango Co.: 7 cases, 0 deaths
- Washington Co.: 127 cases, 4 deaths
- Westmoreland Co.: 419 cases, 32 deaths
UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: As counties move from the “red” phase to the “yellow” phase, Pennsylvania State Police will take an educational approach to enforcement.
State police officials said they could start issuing citations if people repeatedly fail to comply with orders associated with the phase their county is in.
State police do not supersede local police departments, officials said.
UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department reported since March 14, there are now 1,545 cases as of Wednesday. That’s an increase of 19 coronavirus cases over Tuesday. This breaks down to 1,468 positive confirmed cases and 77 probable cases.
There have been 12 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 139. Of the reported deaths, 129 are confirmed or had a positive test and 10 are probable.
Here is a breakdown of coronavirus 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: 103 (7%)
- 25-49 years: 520 (34%)
- 50-64 years: 436 (28%)
- 65+ years: 464 (30%)
There are 285 past or present hospitalizations related to COVID-19.
UPDATE 10:26 a.m.: On Friday, 155 more Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in counties that are in the yellow phase will begin limited in-store public access.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced that all southwest Pennsylvania counties, with the exception of Beaver County, will move into the yellow phase Friday.
The following mitigation efforts will be in place as these stores resume limited in-store public access:
- 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 and further restricting numbers of customers in smaller stores.
- 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. Voluntary compliance from all customers is encouraged in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our most vulnerable community members.
- 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 and encourage them to refrain from touching products unless they intend to buy them.
- Store employees will perform enhanced and frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and store hours will be modified to ensure appropriate time for cleaning and restocking.
- All sales are final, and no returns will be accepted until further notice.
The stores will also continue curbside pickup and online orders.
UPDATE 10:00 a.m.: A new Washington Post poll shows the majority of Pennsylvanians agree about how Gov. Tom Wolf is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the poll, 72% of people approve of Wolf’s performance, while 71% of Americans overall approve with their governors’ performances.
The same poll suggests 43% of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic.
UPDATE 9:10 a.m.: The City of Pittsburgh said Wednesday the latest budget numbers during the coronavirus pandemic show a 25% drop in revenue and a 7% dip in spending.
From March through May 8 of this year, Pittsburgh officials said revenues were $94,401,623 while revenues for the same period in 2019 were $126,398,602. That is a difference of $31,996,979.
Expenses from March through May 8 this were $101,542 while last year during that period they were $109,253,127. That is a difference in spending of $7,711,077.
City officials said tax revenues were the most impacted by the pandemic because of the decreases in payroll, parking, earned income and property taxes.
Last week, city officials announced they were instituting a hiring freeze in all departments to save $3 million in salary, and is working to ways to cut 10% in non-personal spending.
UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: A universal COVID-19 testing plan for all staff and residents of nursing homes across the state is being put in place, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday.
Testing swabs from the federal government will be used for facilities that do not have the necessary equipment. The Pennsylvania National Guard is mobilizing a testing facility to help as well.
Nursing homes are ordered to report deaths, cases and tests performed much like hospitals and other health care facilities.
As of Tuesday, Pennsylvania had 57,991 cases of the coronavirus. The state total included 3,923 positive cases in health care and 12,130 positive cases among residents of 540 long-term care living facilities, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Statewide, there were 3,806 deaths as of Tuesday.
There have been 237,989 people who tested negative for the virus.
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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday that over the past several weeks his office opened criminal investigations into several Pennsylvania nursing homes.
While it is not clear which specific facilities are under investigation, Shapiro said his office will look into reports of criminal neglect of patients and residents.
Under Pennsylvania law, Neglect of a Care-Dependent Person occurs when the caretaker of a person fails to properly provide for their health, safety, and welfare.
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