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TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates May 5

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.

County commissioners send open letter to Gov. Wolf about reopening

UPDATE 11 p.m.: Washington County is one of many in Pennsylvania that have so many businesses hurting right now.

Many are fearful they won’t recover from this, but commissioners have joined together, hoping the governor allows them to re-open soon.

In an open letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, there was an appeal from Washington, Butler Green and Fayette counties to partially re-open.

Kimberly Hyde is the vice chairman for the Butler County Board of Commissioners. She told Channel 11 they want many results from pending legal action.

“(We want) better communication (where) there’s better information sharing back and forth … there’s more of a partnership instead of a takedown order and hopefully we can have some reform,” Hyde said.

The open letter includes statements from commissioners laying out why they are ready to go to the yellow phase.

They are also calling for guidance and resources.

“Right now, the policy is not consistent. Some business have gotten waivers, some have not … what is it based on? It’s very subjective, it’s not based on subjective statistical data,” said Hyde.

One Butler County commissioner told Channel 11 he is not in favor of taking legal action as long as they have open communication with Wolf’s office and the Pa. Department of Health.

You can read that full letter below:

Game Commission to reopen some regional offices, shooting ranges

UPDATE 5:15 p.m.: Game Commission officials said offices in the Northwest and Northcentral Regions will be opening soon along with shooting ranges in those areas.

Within those counties, any rifle, shotgun, pistol and archery ranges on state game lands will be reopened beginning Friday, May 8.

Elsewhere in the Commonwealth, where counties will remain in the matrix’s red-phase, and where stay-at-home orders remain in place and large gatherings are prohibited, shooting ranges on state game lands will remain closed.

Future changes regarding the opening of additional game-lands shooting ranges will be announced by the Game Commission as they are authorized.

The shooting ranges to reopen May 8 include those on: State Game Lands 24 in Forest County; State Game Lands 72 in Clarion County; State Game Lands 109 in Erie County; State Game Lands 176 in Centre County; and State Game Lands 77 in Clearfield County.

PennDOT losing millions with few drivers on the road

UPDATE 5:10 p.m.: PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike are taking a major hit because of the coronavirus pandemic.

PennDOT officials estimate losing $90 million in revenue last month. Less people are driving which translates into less money coming from the gas tax.

With revenue dropping, agency officials said they are concerned about what will happen in 2021. They said they are talking with the federal government about financial help. Without help, there could be impacts to construction schedules and projects as well as maintenance for existing roads and bridges.

U.S. Coronavirus Task Force could wind down work by early June, Associated Press reports

UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: Vice President Mike Pence says the White House coronavirus task force could wind down its work by early June.

Pence tells reporters at a White House briefing that the U.S. could be “in a very different place” by late May and early June. Pence says the administration is beginning to eye the Memorial Day to early June window as the appropriate time to have federal agencies manage the pandemic response in a more traditional way.

Pence’s comments came as an Associated Press analysis found infection rates rising even as states start to lift their lockdowns.

The vice president characterized the discussions as preliminary.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force coordinator, says the federal government will still keep a close eye on the data when if the task force disbands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gov. Wolf: the hope is southwest PA can move into yellow phase soon

UPDATE 2:33 p.m.: On a conference call Tuesday, Gov. Wolf said the hope is that areas in southwest Pennsylvania can soon move from the red phase into the yellow.

The yellow phase eases restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“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 the 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. “

New information from PA Department of Health

UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: The Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said there are 50,956 total positive cases since the outbreak began.

This includes 2,032 cases in workers in the food industry at over a hundred facilities statewide.

Hospitals were reported 2,583 patients were hospitalized due to COVID-19. 542 of those patients have required a ventilator. Across the healthcare system, 46% of hospital beds, 40% of ICU beds and 75% of ventilators are still available.

National Guard medical personnel have helped at severely afflicted nursing homes in areas of the state as well, according to Dr. Levine. She said there are “strike teams” ready to go into nursing homes if needed.

Levine said it was promising that the numbers of new cases was lower over the last several days. The number of deaths does not represent the number of people who died in a 24 hour period. It is just when the data gets reported to the state.

The data from Carnegie Mellon will be evaluated by the state along with other information and presented to Gov. Wolf to decide which areas could reopen next.

Here is a map showing testing locations around the state if you feel you have symptoms of coronavirus:

50,957 cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: Pennsylvania health officials are reporting 50,957 cases of coronavirus in the state. There have been 3,012 deaths and 199,925 negative tests as well.

Here is a local county breakdown:

  • Allegheny Co.: 1,375 positive cases, 109 deaths, 17,636 negative tests
  • Armstrong Co.: 53 positive cases, 3 deaths, 753 negative tests
  • Beaver Co.: 466 positive cases, 73 deaths, 2,187 negative tests
  • Butler Co.: 184 positive cases, 6 deaths, 2,524 negative tests
  • Clarion Co.: 23 positive cases, 1 death, 518 negative tests
  • Fayette Co.: 84 positive cases, 4 deaths, 1,992 negative tests
  • Forest Co.: 7 positive cases, 0 deaths, 30 negative tests
  • Greene Co.: 27 positive cases, 1 death, 463 negative tests
  • Indiana Co.: 74 positive cases, 5 deaths, 782 negative tests
  • Lawrence Co.: 67 positive cases, 7 deaths, 810 negative tests
  • Mercer Co.: 67 positive cases, 1 death, 817 negative tests
  • Venango Co.: 7 positive cases, 0 deaths, 269 negative tests
  • Washington Co.: 120 positive cases, 2 deaths, 2,364 negative tests
  • Westmoreland Co.: 405 positive cases, 31 deaths, 5,094 negative tests

Tuesday’s update from Allegheny County Health Department

UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department reported since March 14, there are now 1,375 cases as of Tuesday. That’s an increase of 10 coronavirus cases over Monday. This breaks down to 1,317 positive confirmed cases and 58 probable cases.

There have been seven additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 109. Of reported deaths, 99 are confirmed or had a positive test and 10 are probable.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 302 residents and 93 staff members at 35 long-term care facilities in Allegheny County have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 79 deaths at those facilities.

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: 12 (1%)
  • 19-24 years: 93 (7%)
  • 25-49 years: 477 (35%)
  • 50-64 years: 389 (28%)
  • 65+ years: 395 (29%)

There are 244 past or present hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 302 residents and 93 staff members at 35 long-term care facilities in Allegheny County have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 79 deaths at those facilities.

Doorstep Delivery brings groceries to the homes of area’s most vulnerable

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank announced Tuesday its Doorstep Delivery program will bring much need food to the area’s most vulnerable.

Social distancing guidelines have made it more challenging for seniors and people with medical conditions to access food assistance. That’s where the Doorstep Delivery program comes in.

Food Bank volunteers deliver a 25-pound box of shelf-stable food right to the recipient’s door. The boxes can include canned fruits and vegetables, juice, potatoes, pasta and proteins like peanut butter and tuna.

To date, nearly 35,000 pounds of food has been delivered to nearly 1,400 homes in the region through the program.

Monroeville Senior Center laying off employees until July 6

The Monroeville Senior Center is laying off employees tentatively until July 6, the center said in a Facebook post.

As a result, no programs or services will be available to seniors who use the center.

Today, Monroeville Municipal Council made the decision to lay-off Monroeville Senior Citizen Center employees...

Posted by Monroeville Senior Citizen Center on Monday, May 4, 2020

Low-cost ventilator being developed by CMU, Pitt researchers

UPDATE 9:45 a.m.: A new low-cost ventilator is being developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Researchers say the device will help address the ventilator shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The device is being called Roboventilator.

“We’ve already developed robotic and sensor technology that can detect force even as it drives an air pump,” said Howie Choset, professor of robotics at CMU. “When that is paired with air-management controls developed by Keith Cook, a CMU professor of biomedical engineering, we believe we can build a closed-loop system that can provide customized and appropriate ventilation to people with respiratory failure from COVID-19.”

It’s estimated that Roboventilator would cost between $500 and $750 each.

A crowdfunding campaign has been started to help with the project.

Allegheny Health Network returns to more normalized medical, surgical operations

UPDATE: 7 a.m.: Allegheny Health Network announced Tuesday that the hospital network is returning to a more normalized schedule and protocols for medical appointments and nonemergent surgical procedures after six weeks of restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Safety measures will remain in place to stop the spread of the virus, including restrictions to hospital visitation, screening patients and employees for coronavirus symptoms, and requiring employees to wear personal protective equipment.

AHN officials said the decision was made after consultation with local health officials and the state Department of Health.

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Tuesday morning

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: Coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania surpassed 50,000 on Monday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

As of Monday, the statewide total of COVID-19 cases was 50,092 and there had been 2,458 deaths. There have been 195,498 people who tested negative for the virus.

State officials have said they are having conversations with county health officials about expanding COVID-19 testing in areas like Allegheny County.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said data comes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays in reference to which counties will be in the next round to start reopening.

Twenty-four counties in Pennsylvania, mainly in the northwest and north-central portions of the state, will start reopening Friday. Only five counties in western Pennsylvania were included: Clarion, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer and Venango.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf provided guidance for businesses in those counties, which will be moving from the red phase to the yellow phase of the state’s reopening plan.

“First and foremost, businesses that have been operating using telework must continue to do so to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 until the stay-at-home and business closure orders are fully lifted when we enter a ‘green’ phase,” Wolf said in an email Monday.

Under Wolf’s guidance, non-life sustaining businesses will be permitted to restart their in-person operations through the loosening of some restrictions. But many businesses, including personal fitness, salons and entertainment will remain closed.

The new guidance includes information about cleaning and disinfecting, the number of employees and customers on premise and other safeguards to keep all customers and employees safe.

The following items are specifically mentioned:

  • Businesses must have a plan in case there is exposure to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Staggering shift times to prevent large groups from entering the business together
  • Conduct meetings and trainings virtually
  • Discourage non-essential visitors from entering the business
  • Limit the number of people inside the building to 50% of capacity

The full guidance can be found HERE.

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