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Daily local coronavirus briefing - April 11, 2020

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PA Department of Health reports 1,676 new positives cases on COVID-19, bringing statewide total to 21,655
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that as of noon there are 1,676 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 21,655. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 78 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 494. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. The number of cases by county are as follows: Bucks, 1,051 cases and 29 deaths; Chester, 532 cases and 15 deaths; Delaware, cases 1,510 and 39 deaths; Lehigh, 1,620 cases and 16 deaths; Montgomery, 2,053 cases and 60 deaths; Northampton, 1,039 cases and 23 deaths; Philadelphia, 6,022 cases and 130 deaths.


Hunterdon County, N.J., reports 304 COVID-19 cases
Hunterdon County reported 304 positive cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths. The number of cases by municipality was: Flemington 10, Frenchtown four, Stockton zero, Milford one, Lambertville 11, Clinton 12, Delaware Township nine, East Amwell six, Kingwood four, West Amwell four, and Raritan Township, which surrounds Flemington, with the highest number of cases in Hunterdon at 53.


Acme Screening Room virtual screenings allow for home viewing
Acme Screening Room in Lambertville, N.J., offers virtual screenings to watch from the comfort of home during the coronavirus pandemic, while supporting Acme. Among the current offerings is “The Times of Bill Cunningham.” Told in Bill Cunningham’s own words from a recently unearthed six-hour 1994 interview, the iconic street photographer and fashion historian chronicles moonlighting as a milliner in France during the Korean War, his unique relationship with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, his four decades at The New York Times and his democratic view of fashion and society. Rated NR, the film is 1 hour and 14 minutes. Tickets are $9.99. Also among the current offerings is “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” about 23-year-old biologist Anne Innis Dagg, who made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild. Original 16mm film footage offers an intimate window into the world's first 'giraffologist', whose research findings ultimately became the foundation for many scientists following in her footsteps. Rated NR, the film is 1 hour and 23 minutes Tickets are $12. For tickets and information on virtual screenings, visit acmescreeningroom.org/upcoming-events.


Deadline extended for Bucks County High School Short-Fiction Contest
Bucks County Community College has extended the deadline for its third annual Bucks County High School Short-Fiction Contest to noon Monday, April 20, according to professor Elizabeth Luciano. “Now that high school students have adjusted to online learning amid the current public-health crisis, we hope that the new deadline might inspire those in need of a creative outlet to consider entering,” said Luciano, who teaches in the language and literature department at the public, two-year college. The contest is open to ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th graders who live in and attend high school in Bucks County, including those who are home-schooled. Students can enter one original short story that’s never been published, including in online blogs or online publications. No fan fiction – stories based on existing books, movies, or other media – is allowed. Stories may be six to 10 pages, or about 1,450 to 2,400 words, double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman font with one-inch margins. There is no cost to enter the contest. The winners, to be selected by Bucks County Community College faculty, will collect a $200 honorarium for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place. Entries must be submitted electronically by noon Monday, April 20. Rules and a link to the online entry form are at bucks.edu/ShortFictionContestHS. The URL is case-sensitive.


Mercer County announces positive COVID-19 cases
The New Jersey Department of Health announced that as of April 11 there are 1,434 positive cases of COVID-19 in Mercer County and 49 deaths.


The GIANT Company will limit the number of shoppers in stores at one time
The GIANT Company today announced it will limit the number of customers in its stores as part of ongoing efforts to support social distancing practices and provide a safe shopping environment for both customers and team members. Starting Monday, April 13, the company will limit the number of customers who may be in a store at one time. The number of customers permitted at one time varies by location and has been determined based on several factors, including occupancy and selling square feet. The company also requests that customers limit the size of their shopping party to one member per household as much as possible, as doing so reduces the overall number of people inside stores and helps support social distancing. To manage customer occupancy limits, a GIANT team member will be stationed at the front entrance tracking shopper flow. When the store has reached capacity, customers will be asked to form a line outside, while observing social distancing. As customers exit, customers in line will be allowed in the store. For information, visit giantfoodstores.com.


Department of Aging offers online COVID-19 resource guide for older Pennsylvanians
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has launched an online COVID-19 resource guide to help older adults easily find useful information related to their health, safety and well-being. The guide is housed on the department’s website under “COVID-19 Resource Guide for Older Adults” and provides older adults, their families and caregivers with information on a variety of subjects, including meals, prescriptions, protective services, scams, and how to stay active and connected. In addition to the COVID-19 resource guide, the department has offered guidance for aging services to help meet the needs of older Pennsylvanians while maintaining safety. This guidance, along with all of the programs that the Department of Aging provides, can be found here.


St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children receives PPE face shields from Bucks IU Fab Lab
Instead of sitting idle while schools are not in session, the Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s (Bucks IU) Mobile FAB LAB has been producing personal protection equipment (PPE) face shields with its 3-D printers and laser cutter. Led by Dr. Lindsey Sides, Bucks IU supervisor of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) education, the face shields are created from designs shared with the Bucks IU by Cornell University. Once a prototype was completed and approved, production began on April 3rd. The first delivery of 80 masks was made to the Bucks County Emergency Management Operations Center on April 6. At the same time, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, located in Philadelphia, reached out to Sides to see if there was any way they could possibly receive some of these face shields. As with many medical institutions during this COVID-19 pandemic, patient and staff safety is at the forefront of their concerns and being able to replenish their stock of PPE continues to be a challenge. In line with the Bucks IUs mission of serving children, Sides very quickly agreed to deliver some from the next batch being produced.

“It is our pleasure to be able to gift St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children with these personal protection face shields during these difficult time with the COVID-19 virus” stated Sides. “We are grateful to be able to redirect equipment that would have been idle, to now be used to help others by producing such important pieces of protective equipment.” Sides, assisted by the Bucks IU Fab Lab Coordinator Megan Boletta, set to work and in just a couple days they were able to produce 75 masks for St. Christopher’s. On Friday, Sides took the time to personally drive into Philadelphia to deliver and present them to the hospital’s Interim Chief Operating Officer (COO) Solomon Torres.


Pennsylvania begins implementing new federal unemployment benefits; eligible claimants get extra $600 starting next week
Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is implementing new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The COVID-19 relief package temporarily provides an additional $600 per week, makes self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits and extends unemployment compensation (UC) benefits for an additional 13 weeks. The federal benefits are in addition to Pennsylvania’s regular unemployment benefit, which is about half of a person’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week for 26 weeks. As part of the CARES Act, unemployment benefits are being expanded to provide an additional $600 per week beginning the week ending April 4 through the week ending July 25. This temporary emergency increase in benefits is referred to as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. All eligible claimants that filed biweekly claims for the week ending April 4 and who received their regular UC payment should expect to see the additional money either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. For other eligible claimants who have not yet received a regular UC payment, they will receive the extra $600 the week after receiving their first UC payment. It is important to note that anyone who currently has federal withholding tax taken out of their benefits will see the same 10% reduction in the FPUC payment, resulting in a $540 payment. For information about changing your withholding election, visit L&I’s Taxes on Benefits page. The $600 is paid separately from the biweekly UC benefit, and residents do not need to apply. Visit the department’s FPUC frequently asked questions for more information.

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