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Daily local coronavirus briefing - April 13, 2020

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PA Department of Health provides update on COVID-19, 1,366 positives bring statewide total to 24,199
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of noon April 13, that there are 1,366 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 24,199. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 17 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 524. Bucks County has 1,177 cases and 36 deaths; Chester 593 cases and 17 deaths; Delaware 1,712 cases and 40 deaths; Lehigh 1,747 cases and 19 deaths; Montgomery 2,285 cases and 65 deaths; Northampton 1,130 cases and 23 deaths; Philadelphia 6,810 cases and 127 deaths.
 
 
COVID-19 visual Bucks County update compares counties
Peter Malamis of CROANALYTICS sent the following charts showing continued slowing of increase rates for positive tests, hospitalization, and deaths in the United States and Pennsylvania. Bucks incidence rate of 0.15% at state average. (Monroe County is highest at 0.44%) The four counties contiguous to Bucks show Philadelphia at 0.31%; Montgomery at 0.23%; Lehigh at 0.42%; and Northampton at 0.33%. Read the full report HERE.
 

NJ Department of Health reports Mercer and Hunterdon COVID-19 cases
The New Jersey Department of Health announced that as of April 13, the state of New Jersey had 61,850 and 2,350 deaths. At this time 1,646 Mercer County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 53 people have died. Hunterdon County reported 314 cases and 12 deaths as of April 12. Flemington reported 10 cases, Frenchtown five, Stockton, 0, Lambertville 12, Clinton 39, East Amwell seven, Kingwood five, Raritan Township 57.


Community Support

Artist Relief offers grants for artists, creative workers impacted by crisis
A consortium of funders has announced the creation of the Artist Relief, a $10 million national emergency relief fund for artists and creative workers that will provide $5,000 no-strings-attached grants. It is intended for anyone who earns income from their creative or artistic practice and who has also been affected by COVID-19. Artists or creative workers who have been negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis should visit the Artist Relief webpage and funding application, which includes a COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers designed by Americans for the Arts.

The $10 million fund created by Artist Relief is comprised of a $5 million matching gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as contributions from 7|G Foundation, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Amazon Literary Partnership, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Arison Arts Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, Ford Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort, Jerome Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Kraus Family Foundation, LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, Metabolic Studio, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Richard Salomon Family Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Sue Hostetler and Beau Wrigley Family Foundation, Teiger Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The Willem de Kooning Foundation.


Business
 
Giant, Team Pennsylvania grant to support small businesses in food supply chain
The GIANT Company of Carlisle has announced a $250,000 emergency grant program, in partnership with Team Pennsylvania, to support small businesses in Pennsylvania’s food supply chain impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are being accepted online through April 24 from any small business involved in growing, making or processing food within the Commonwealth. The Giant Company and Team Pennsylvania worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Chamber, and Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association to develop the program. For information on criteria and to apply for an emergency grant from The GIANT Company online, visit: teampa.com/giant-ag-grants/. Recipients will be notified in early May.


Education, Courses & Online Learning
Penn State Extension offers online food safety certification course to keep up with regulations
Is your ServSafe certificate expiring soon? Concerned about how you will recertify? If so, consider registering for TAP (Training Achievement Program) Series through Penn State Extension. This is an online training course for food service managers, chefs, caterers, cooks, health officials, and inspectors to prepare for the ServSafe exam. The online learning portion can be taken anytime throughout the year. The actual ServSafe certification exam must be taken in person. Extension educators will work with you to schedule an exam once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. After completing the online course and passing the proctored, multiple-choice exam with a score of 75% or higher, participants will receive the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification, which meets the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture requirements for the Food Employee Certification Act. For information and to register, visit extension.psu.edu/tap-online.


RVCC to offer online summer classes beginning in May
College students are turning their focus to Raritan Valley Community College to make their summer productive, especially during such challenging times. RVCC is offering online summer classes beginning May 18. The classes are open to current RVCC students, visiting students looking to earn credits to transfer back to their home college or university, or high school juniors and seniors interested in jumpstarting their college education. Another online summer session starts June 8. Before applying, visiting students should confirm with their home school that it will accept the credits for a specific course. For information about enrolling in summer classes, visit www.raritanval.edu/summer-classes. For additional information, contact Admissions at 908-526-1200 x7009 or email admissions@raritanval.edu.


Roxy Therapy Dogs conducts virtual readings
During the COVID-19 crisis, Roxy Therapy Dogs volunteers want to support and comfort children at home by reading their favorite books aloud —with their Roxy therapy dog, of course. Roxy Therapy Dogs has created a series of videos, Roxy Reads, that are available on the Roxy website. Visit https://www.roxytherapydogs.org/news/2020/3/19/roxy-reads-to-children-virtually-during-covid-19.


Local Fundraising
 
DAR’s Bucks County Chapter sews masks for essential workers
The Bucks County Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is lending a helping hand to healthcare and other essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic, ensuring that Doylestown’s residents and facilities have more protective wear resources to face the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bucks County Chapter responded to the medical mask shortage by hand-sewing masks to donate to local essential workers in the most need. As of April 13, the Bucks County Chapter of Doylestown has sewn and donated nearly 100 masks to Doylestown Hospital, Plumstead Township Police Department, and Plumsteadville Volunteer Fire Department.

“While we are each doing our part to slow the spread of the virus by staying at home, the DAR members in our chapter wanted to help those working hard to keep our community healthy and safe,” said Lucina Verish, regent of the Bucks County Chapter. “We know these are challenging times for everyone and wanted to spread a little sunshine and help take care of our community.” In addition to the chapter regent, the following chapter members have been making masks for the community: Jane McKenna, Kyra Rumble, Paige Rumble, and Debra Schiesser, who volunteered to lead the chapter’s effort. If interested in helping, contact buckscodar@gmail.com.

DAR junior member Paige Rumble delivers masks to Chief David Mettin at the Plumstead Township Police Department.


Seniors

Department of Aging: Essential court functions and legal assistance are available
As Pennsylvanians follow the governor’s stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 emergency, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Office of Elder Justice in the Courts remind older adults and their families that essential court functions and legal assistance remain available. “The Wolf administration is committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens in every aspect of their lives during this outbreak,” said Aging Secretary Robert Torres. “Situations requiring immediate legal protections don’t stop during this crisis. The courts and legal advocates for older adults are available to provide essential services and assistance.”
 
Senior-serving organizations available to help with legal assistance during this crisis include: Pennsylvania SeniorLAW HelpLine: 877-PA SR LAW (877-727-7529); Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE): 800-356-3606; PA Pennsylvania Law Help: Help Line 800-274-3258 or www.palawhelp.org. Two essential functions of the Department of Aging are advocating for the rights of older adults and protecting them from abuse, neglect, exploitation and/or abandonment. Anyone suspecting elder abuse can contact their local Area Agency on Aging or call the statewide Elder Abuse Reporting Hotline at 1-800-490-8505, which is operational 24/7, 365 days per year.


Government

New Hope restricts parking during PA Declaration of Emergency
New Hope Mayor Larry Keller has authorized the borough’s police chief to institute Temporary Emergency Parking Regulations to control the number of people and vehicles traveling to New Hope Borough. According to a proclamation issued by Keller, “a very large number of visitors to the borough” have been frequenting the area of South Main Street. These visitors have been in violation of the Social Distancing Rules put in place by the state and congregating in groups of 10 or more to consume takeout from eating establishments of South Main Street. These groups have created choke points of congestion on the sidewalks, causing the visitors who are walking in the borough to walk through the group.
 
These Emergency Parking Regulations, which went into effect Friday, consist of a 15-minute maximum parking time limit for the specific purpose of picking up takeout food orders from the restaurants that are providing this service. There will be no consuming of food on the sidewalks or streets of the Borough. It is being enforced daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will continue for the duration of the Pennsylvania Declaration of Emergency for the Coronavirus. This Parking Regulation will expire when the Pennsylvania Declaration of Emergency is rescinded by the governor of Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania launches COVID-19 job hiring portal
Pennsylvanians looking for work can now find life-sustaining businesses that are hiring through a new online COVID-19 job portal the Department of Labor & Industry is launching today. People seeking employment can visit www.PAcareerlink.pa.gov and select the green “PA COVID-19 Jobs – Hiring Immediately” job portal banner to see active job openings. Selecting the “Apply Now” button for a listed position will redirect individuals to the employer’s website or email where they can apply directly with the employer and speed up the hiring process. Life-sustaining businesses can feature their job openings on the portal through an easy to use online form. Businesses must meet the criteria of a life-sustaining business and must have more than 10 job openings. The new COVID-19 job portal is part of the PA CareerLink system, a one-stop shop for Pennsylvania job seekers and employers.


State Police Academy closed, cadets to continue instruction online
The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) announced today that its training academy in Hershey will be closed for at least two weeks after an enlisted staff member assigned to the facility tested positive for COVID-19. During the closure, the 100 cadets comprising the 159th class will continue instruction remotely from home, using the Canvas online learning platform. All other activities at the academy, including continuing education classes for PSP personnel and municipal law enforcement officers, have been suspended since.

The 158th cadet class graduated March 27, leaving only the 159th class at the academy. The PSP Bureau of Training and Education continues its work to adjust instruction so that the 159th class, which has been at the Academy since Jan. 12, can graduate by July 24 as scheduled. The decision when to resume onsite instruction will be based on guidance from the PA Department of Health and the CDC. For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.pa.gov.


Department of Corrections announces first COVID-19-related inmate death
April 8, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix, Montgomery County, died at the Einstein Medical Center. On April 11, the Montgomery County coroner notified prison officials that the cause of death was determined to be acute respiratory distress from pneumonia due to COVID-19 with contributing factors of hypertensive cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis. The inmate was a 67-year-old African American who was serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder conviction out of Philadelphia County. This is the first COVID-19-related death in a state correctional facility.


Pennsylvania hospitals request urgent relief, ask state to cover $500 million in tax payments
Facing an industry revenue shortfall in the billions of dollars while providing care across the state for COVID-19 patients, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) urgently requested today that Gov. Tom Wolf relieve Pennsylvania hospitals of making Quality Care Assessment (QCA) payments totaling $500 million. HAP is asking the commonwealth to cover the required tax payments to alleviate the financial stress facing hospitals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Deadlines for the QCA payments are approaching in May and June. If the payments are not made, important federal matching dollars that support hospitals will not be available. “The COVID-19 pandemic has already taxed Pennsylvania’s hospitals, and now the upcoming assessment payments will only exacerbate a developing financial crisis,” said Andy Carter, CEO and president of HAP. “We immediately need the state to work with us and cover these payments so hospitals can fight COVID-19 today and carry out the mission of providing care for patients tomorrow.”

HAP is also asking the state to establish a Health Care Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund of $1.5 billion to make sure the commonwealth’s health care providers — hospitals, doctors and nurses, health centers, nursing homes and all providers at the front lines — have the support they need to get through this public health emergency and are there for patients in the tough months of healing ahead. Finally, HAP and its members seek accelerated payments from commercial insurers and a 20 percent Medicaid rate increase for COVID-19-related treatment. “Hospitals cannot meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic if they are forced into a financial crisis,” Carter said. “We need Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly to work with us and to be thinking of the sustainability of all Pennsylvania hospitals today and well after this pandemic.” On Friday, Wolf announced a $450 million loan program for Pennsylvania hospitals. Each hospital would be eligible for a loan of up to $10 million with an interest rate of 0.5 percent.

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