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 10:50 p.m.: State Sen. Camera Chatham Bartolotta announced on her Facebook page Thursday night that Washington and Greene counties will be moving to the yellow phase on May 15.
Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to announce Friday which counties will be included in the next wave of partial reopenings, and most of southwestern Pa. is hoping to be a part of that.
Bartolotta represents the 46th district of Pennsylvania, serving portions of Washington and Greene counties.
A source also told Channel 11 that Allegheny County will be among those to move to the yellow phase on May 15.
The governor’s office has not confirmed that at this time.
UPDATE 10:45 p.m.: Congressman Conor Lamb is now calling for a federal investigation into Brighton Rehab & Wellness Center after learning residents were in "immediate jeopardy,” a citation he said is reserved for violations that could kill or seriously injure residents.
More than 60 residents have died at the Beaver County nursing home, and 300 people at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19. To put that in perspective, Brighton Rehab has the highest number of deaths at any nursing home or assisted living facility in the state.
Lamb said families who lost loved ones or have family members in the facility deserve to know what's going on behind closed doors and why residents were considered in "immediate jeopardy" by inspectors.
Last month, the Pa. Department of Health appointed a temporary manager to try to contain the coronavirus at the facility.
Lamb said he wants a federal probe to look into what went wrong under Brighton's management and under the guidance of that state-appointed manager that led to this horrific outcome.
Commissioners in Beaver County have been calling for transparency at the facility, claiming the nursing home is single-handedly spiking COVID-19 statistics for the whole county.
UPDATE 8:25 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf announced he has extended the stay-at-home order for all counties still in the red phase through June 4.
The governor’s office said the 24 counties slated to move into the yellow phase Friday are still cleared to do so.
Below is part of the statement from Wolf:
“The extended stay-at-home order remains the same as the original statewide stay-at-home order announced on April 1, which was set to expire tonight at midnight and is now extended to June 4. The yellow phase order provides guidance for those counties entering the yellow phase of reopening tomorrow.
The yellow phase order applies to these 24 counties: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.
The yellow phase order also addresses the limited reopening of businesses in the yellow phase, detailing those businesses previously deemed non-life-sustaining as being permitted to reopen if they follow the guidance for safety for staff, customers, and facility. The guidance for businesses can be found here."
UPDATE 4:15 p.m.: Greene County District Attorney, David J. Russo, said he will not prosecute small businesses owners for violating Gov. Wolfs order mandating non-essential businesses to remain closed.
According to a release, Russo stated, "As of Monday, May 11, 2020 businesses in Greene County Pennsylvania who open their doors and conduct business will not be prosecuted as long as they limit the number of customers on the premises, maintain social distancing, require personal protective equipment for employees and customers, as well as follow CDC guidelines." He also commented: "I cannot in good conscience stand by and watch our economy and the small businesses in my community perish. If large conglomerate shopping centers, gas stations and businesses deemed essential such as beer distributors can safely operate with thousands of customers entering their stores each day then there is no reason the small business owner should not be allowed to operate under the same guidelines. Many of the businesses in Pennsylvania may not be able to recover from the Governor’s actions; I am trying to save what is left of my community."
According to the Pennsylvania Health Department, Greene County has 27 cases of COVID-19.
“What is best for my county may not be the best for more populated counties. Our courts, local government and essential businesses have functioned in a safe manner throughout the pandemic and local businesses should be afforded the same opportunity; every business is essential for the families relying on it to put food on their table?” Russo said.
UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced the first arrest by the Western PA Covid-19 Fraud Task Force.
Henry Sylvain Gindt II, 34, arrested for allegedly advertising and selling stolen COVID-19 testing services, falsely claiming that he was connected to labs that would test the kits, shipping test kits without any prior medical screening and providing no results to consumers.
He has been charged with committing mail fraud and wire fraud, and conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
Watch Brady’s full announcement below:
UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: Butler County has joined three other counties to file a federal lawsuit to force reopening of businesses closed under Gov. Wolf’s order.
Plantiffs include Butler, Fayette Greene and Washington counties, several business owners, United States Rep. Mike Kelly and Pennsylvania state reps. Marcie Mustello, Daryl Metcalfe and Tim Bonner.
In addition to Wolf, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine is named as a co-defendant.
A release from the Butler County Board of Commissioners said:
“According to the lawsuit, the order Wolf and Levine issued on March 19, 2020, prohibiting the operation of all but life-sustaining businesses and subsequent phased plan to reopen businesses caused the complete shutdown of the plaintiff businesses, causing severe financial hardship and loss of the owners’ livelihood and use of property.
The lawsuit states the plaintiff counties were damaged due to the shutdown’s impact on their tax revenue, reputation and citizens, who have no access to legal representation with law offices being closed and rely upon the counties to protect their interests.
Wolf’s plan placed 27 counties in the northwest and northern central part of the state to enter the yellow stage, or first phase, as of May 8. Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties were not designated as being able to enter the yellow phase with no date set as to when that could occur. However, Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer and Venango counties, all of which border Butler County, are set to go to yellow on May 8.
According to the lawsuit, “It is clear that the coronavirus does not stop at or respect arbitrary boundaries such as county dividing lines.”
The lawsuit asserts the state’s orders also impact the Constitutionally protected activities of the named federal and state officials, including door-to-door campaigning and campaign rallies. The elected officials filed the suit as citizens, not in their representative capacities.
According to the lawsuit, the state’s plan to ease restrictions is unsupported by the available statistical data and health precautions recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and allows competitor businesses to those in the plaintiff counties to operate within the same zone. “
UPDATE 2:20 p.m.: Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine announced a major update on the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
According to WHIO-TV, the following announcements were made:
- Hair salons, barbershops, day spas and nail salons will be permitted to reopen May 15.
- Restaurants and bars will be permitted to reopen for outside dining on May 15 and inside dining on May 21.
UPDATE 1:35 p.m.: During Gov. Tom Wolf’s press conference about relief for renters and homeowners, he said he’s making an announcement tomorrow about more openings in Pennsylvania.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week that 24 counties in Pennsylvania will have some restrictions lifted on Friday, moving from the “red” to “yellow” phase.
It’s unknown right now what time the announcement will be.
We’ll have LIVE coverage of Wolf’s announcement in our our WPXI Now streaming apps. Click here for more information on how to download our apps.
UPDATE 1:18 p.m.: The Pittsburgh Parking Authority announced that starting on May 10, all parking enforcement officers and meter technicians will be furloughed.
The Authority said they will still maintain the employees’ health care coverage.
It said after the suspension of enforcement on March 19, the Authority saw a drastic reduction in its meter revenues.
UPDATE 1:00 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf & Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced new protections for homeowners and renters affected by COVID-19.
Gov wolf signed an executive order that will suspend evictions and foreclosures until July 10. The current order in place ends on Monday.
“At a time when people need to stay home to protect their heath, they should not have to worry about losing their homes,” said Wolf. “Ensuring that people can remain in their homes will help them to better protect their loved ones. It gives families the comfort of knowing they will have a place to live while all of us work together to fight COVID-19 and prepare to move Pennsylvania forward.”
Wolf said rent and mortgage payments are still due, so back owed amounts can add up and you can still get state penalties. If you are having trouble making payments, contact your mortgage companies and landlords.
“I commend the Governor for his decision to delay eviction and foreclosure proceedings. We know it’s critical for public health, and for our economic recovery, that people stay in their homes during this emergency,” said Shapiro. “This order gives people struggling with lost income something they can count on — a roof over their heads.”
Click here for more information from the governor’s office and watch the full news conference below:
UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: Pennsylvania has more than 52,915 positive cases of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health.
There are 1,070 additional positive cases. There are 310 additional coronavirus deaths over the past few weeks, bringing the state total to 3,416. 209,873 tests have come back negative.
Locally, there are 3,049 cases in western Pennsylvania Here is the breakdown by county:
- Allegheny Co.: 1,439 cases, 117 deaths
- Armstrong Co.: 55 cases, 3 deaths
- Beaver Co.: 472 cases, 78 deaths
- Butler Co.: 190 cases, 6 deaths
- Clarion Co.: 23 cases, 1 death
- Fayette Co.: 84 cases, 4 deaths
- Forest Co.: 7 cases, 0 deaths
- Greene Co.: 27 cases, 1 death
- Indiana Co.: 75 cases, 5 deaths
- Lawrence Co.: 69 cases, 7 deaths
- Mercer Co.: 70 cases, 1 death
- Venango Co.: 7 cases, 0 deaths
- Washington Co.: 120 cases, 4 deaths
- Westmoreland Co.: 411 cases, 32 deaths
UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department reported since March 14, there are now 1,439 cases as of Thursday. That’s an increase of 45 coronavirus cases over Wednesday. This breaks down to 1,375 positive confirmed cases and 64 probable cases.
The Allegheny County Health Department says the increase in the number of cases is because of a delay in reporting from a new lab. The new positive tests span several days.
There have been six additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 117. Of reported deaths, 107 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: 96 (7%)
- 25-49 years: 491 (35%)
- 50-64 years: 403 (28%)
- 65+ years: 427 (29%)
There are 254 past or present hospitalizations related to COVID-19.
UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday a civilian effort to help increase testing and contact tracing for the coronavirus.
Called the Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps, the group will provide 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,” Wolf said.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey wants the U.S. economy to start reopening and is calling on Wolf to immediately allow most of the state to resume economic activity.
Toomey led a round table discussion on Wednesday with health and economic experts on reopening the country with social distancing guidelines in place.
As of Wednesday, Pennsylvania had 51,845 cases of the coronavirus and 3,106 deaths, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. There have been 204,495 people who tested negative for the virus.
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