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Daily local coronavirus briefing - April 14, 2020

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NJ Department of Health reports Mercer and Hunterdon COVID-19 cases
The New Jersey Department of Health announced that as of April 14, the state of New Jersey had 64,584 cases and 2,443 deaths. At this time 1,731 Mercer County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 71 people have died. Hunterdon County reported 325 cases and 11 deaths as of April 13. Flemington reported 11 cases, Frenchtown five, Stockton, zero, Lambertville 12, Milford Borough 2, Milford Township 41; Town of Clinton 14; Clinton Township 41, East Amwell seven, Kingwood six, Raritan Township 57, West Amwell four.


PA Department of Health reports 1,146 positive new cases of COVID-19, bring statewide total to 25,345
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that as of noon there are 1,146 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 25,345. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 60 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 584. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. The number of cases by county is as follows: Bucks, 1,222 cases and 40 deaths; Chester, 621 cases and 20 deaths; Delaware, 1,806 cases and 45 deaths; Lehigh, 1,803 cases and 23 deaths; Montgomery, 2,354 cases and 76 deaths; Northampton, 1,176 cases and 25 deaths; Philadelphia, 7,121 cases and 131 deaths.


Community Support

YMCA of Bucks County thanks community with unique video
Sometimes it is difficult to put gratitude into mere words. On Friday, YMCA of Bucks County released a unique, video “thank you” note to its members and the community to illuminate through photos and speech the impact their support has on the community during this difficult time. “These are really tough times but this is a time when communities really come together,” said Zane Moore, president/CEO of YMCA of Bucks County. “This is why we launched Operation Compassion. This is our best way of reaching out into Bucks County to those who need us most right now.” The video can be viewed on any of the Y’s Facebook pages and via its website at ymcabucks.org.

Operation Compassion, developed by the Y during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, is positioned to assist members currently on financial assistance, staff who need assistance, the homeless population, and health-care workers and essential staff who need child care for their children. Most impactful, the video culminates with a montage of “thank you” messages from front-line staff from the Y’s five membership branches and six child-care centers.


Family Service provides life-sustaining services; doors remain open
For 66 years, Family Service Association of Bucks County has helped thousands of Bucks County residents each year through the toughest times of their lives. Today, amidst the COVID-10 pandemic, Family Service’s doors remain open. Family Service provides essential services for vulnerable populations and will continue to serve clients at several locations as well as through telehealth platforms.

The nonprofit organization treats those with mental illness, supports recovery among people struggling with addiction, prevents suicide, keeps children safe from abuse, shelters families without homes, feeds the hungry, and more. All of these services are provided while taking an abundance of caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among staff, clients and visitors. Family Service is following the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and Federal, State and County Health Departments. For information about specific programs, visit www.fsabc.org or call 215-757-6916 for all service inquires. To help ensure that these life-sustaining services remain strong, consider making a gift to Family Service at www.fsabc.org/donate.


DelVal to provide residence hall use for Doylestown Health staff
Delaware Valley University will provide housing for health care workers from Doylestown Health to lend support during the COVID-19 crisis. The university and Doylestown Health have a strong relationship as community partners. The organizations are also located within walking distance of each other, which made this a natural solution to an emergent need. The university is providing a self-contained residence hall for Doylestown Health Associates on a short-term basis. Each guest will have a private room and bathroom for their use with parking adjacent to the building. Doylestown Health staff who use the facilities are those actively working throughout the health system.

Staff temporarily residing at the university are doing so for the safety of family or household members at home. None of the Doylestown Health staff members staying at the residence halls are symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19. They will not interact with the small number of essential DelVal employees or students who remain on campus. DelVal, like other universities, closed residence halls and is delivering all courses via remote learning for the rest of the semester during this pandemic.


The Tea Can Company donates tea to local heroes at hospitals
In such a crazy time, The Tea Can Company in Bucks County is fortunate enough to be in a position to spread positivity and give back. Last Friday the company decided to donate several hundred cans of tea to: Doylestown Health Foundation, Doylestown; Abington - Jefferson Health, Abington; and St. Mary Medical Center, Langhorne. “As soon as we heard about how hard our local medical staff had been working, we jumped on the opportunity to give back to those who are fighting this pandemic day after day,” stated owner Donna McCafferty. “We wish all first responders and all medical staff the best in this time and we thank you for your altruism.”

Tyler LeBlanc and Donna McCafferty, The Tea Can Company owner, deliver cans of tea to the Doylestown Health Foundation.


Business
 
Pennsylvania businesses to benefit from sales tax prepayments waiver
As part of the effort to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today said businesses that collect Pennsylvania sales tax will not have to make Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) prepayments over the next three months. That means businesses that normally have a monthly prepayment requirement will not be charged penalties for missing the prepayment deadline during this three-month period in April, May and June. Under this new scenario, the department is asking businesses to simply remit the sales tax that they collected during the prior month. The due dates to remit sales tax will be April 20, May 20 and June 22, which follows the standard due dates for monthly filers who have no prepayment requirement.


Small Business Administration administers CARES Act
On March 29, following the passage of the CARES Act, the SBA provided small business owners and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 with the opportunity to obtain up to a $10,000 Advance on their Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The Advance is available as part of the full EIDL application and will be transferred into the account you provide shortly after your application is submitted. To ensure that the greatest number of applicants can receive assistance during this challenging time, the amount of the advance will be determined by the number of pre-disaster (i.e., as of Jan. 31) employees. The advance will provide $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000.
 
Businesses may be eligible for another loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, which is available through participating lenders. Below is a comparison of the two loan programs: To locate a Paycheck Protection Program Lender, visit: www.SBA.gov/PaycheckProtection. Information on available resources may be found at Education, Courses & Online Learning.


Mercer County Community College reduces summer tuition
To help students and their families under financial strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) board of trustees has approved a 20% reduction in tuition for all summer 2020 classes. MCCC moved to remote operations on March 13 following New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s declaration of a public health emergency, and as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, has made the decision to deliver summer classes via remote platforms. The summer semesters at MCCC have either a 12-week term, or two eight-week terms. Classes begin on May 18, and June 30 for the later-starting eight-week term. With the reduction to $162.65 a credit hour for in-county and a 20% reduction for out-of-county and out-of-state residents, MCCC tuition will be one of the lowest in New Jersey. Registration for summer 2020 terms is now open at Mercer County Community College, with registration, counseling and advising all available either online or via remote platforms. More information is available at www.mccc.edu/enroll.


Health & Wellness

St. Clare Retail Pharmacy at St. Mary Medical Center offers curbside pickup
St. Clare Retail Pharmacy at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne now offers patients curbside pickup to assist with social distancing guidelines. Patients wishing to use the curbside pickup service must call ahead to ensure prescriptions are ready to be picked up. Patients also must pay in advance over the phone using a credit card. When the prescription is ready to be picked up, a member of the pharmacy team will deliver it to the patient’s car at the pickup location outside the Franciscan Building entrance to the pharmacy. For more information about the St. Clare Retail Pharmacy at St. Mary Medical Center, call 215-710-7427 or visit www.stmaryhealthcare.org/stclarepharmacy.


Looking Ahead offers remote completion for advance care planning documentation
Looking Ahead, the local nonprofit that encourages and assists individuals to document their future health care choices, is offering remote options for starting and completing advance healthcare directives to those people who cannot take advantage of the organization’s workshops or individual face-to-face conversations at this time. “Responsible social distancing and stay-at-home orders present unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Betsy Payn, executive director of Looking Ahead. “More than ever before, it is critical for people facing serious illness and those who love them to discuss their care preferences and document their treatment wishes. Fortunately, with the technology available to us, we can work together safely and securely to complete advance directives and healthcare powers of attorney and then get these electronically into patients’ medical records.”

A four-page advance directive form, which was developed in partnership with area physicians and other medical personnel and includes a section for appointing healthcare agents, is available at the Looking Ahead website for download as a fillable PDF or for printing out for scanning or mailing. Pennsylvania law currently requires two witnesses to the signing of an advance directive. Also available on the website for download is a Reflection Guide, which helps individuals put their values, beliefs and goals of care into words that can then become statements on their advance directive. There is no charge for accessing these forms. Depending on an individual’s health insurance, there may be a co-pay for Looking Ahead to facilitate completion of the documents. For information, leave a voicemail at 267-544-9580 or email bpayn@lookingaheadacp.org.


Local Fundraising

Last Chance Ranch hosts online auction; annual gala postponed
As a response to COVID-19, Last Chance Ranch is holding a virtual auction to help raise funds for the animals. Last Chance Ranch had to postpone its 7th annual Tails & Ties Gala. That event brings in much-needed funds to help support the organization throughout the year. In its place, LCR has organized an online auction that will run through April 26. Items in the online auction include gift certificates, artwork, vacation packages, collectibles and LCR apparel. To bid, visit https://one.bidpal.net/virtualgala/welcome.


Government

Area governors create task for to plan reopening region
The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania joined together via conference call Monday afternoon to address a reopening plan for the region. N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a task force will be developed, with each state selecting a public health official, economic development official and a chief of staff to the governors. The six states will work together to develop a plan for when the COVID-19 emergency passes. All six states on the call agreed on the importance of getting back to work but the need for it to be done in the right way. “We all know that we can do anything better when we work together in this region," Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, said during the conference call. "This partnership – this council that we're forming here – recognizes that simple fact."


Department of Health releases Interim Crisis Standards of Care guidance for hospitals
Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today announced the department has finalized interim guidance for hospitals should they become overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients who have critical medical needs. “Our team began to develop a document that helped hospitals make decisions in extreme circumstances after it saw what happened in the aftermath of major hurricanes and earthquakes throughout the world,” Dr. Levine said. “Initially, this was intended to be a year-and-a-half process, but four months into its development COVID-19 became a global pandemic, so it was fast tracked. While a committee worked with key stakeholders to ensure it is a balanced approached to a difficult topic, this document is a work in progress and may change in future versions.”

The Interim Pennsylvania Crisis Standards of Care for Pandemic Guidelines, developed with The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, is a guide to help hospitals determine how patient resources are allocated during an overwhelming public health emergency when the needs of the community dramatically exceed the supply of resources available. The guidelines specifically prohibit discrimination in regard to patient age, race, gender, creed, religion or exercise of conscience, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, ethnicity, national origin (including limited English proficiency), or socioeconomic status.


Casey among senators urging increased support for victims of domestic violence during COVID-19 pandemic
On Monday, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) led a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership and appropriators with Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), requesting that additional funding and critical provisions to support the victims of family violence, domestic violence and dating violence be included in the anticipated fourth coronavirus (COVID-19) legislative package. As the nation engages in social distancing to combat the pandemic, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has reported contacts from victims, saying their abusers are taking advantage of the situation to further isolate them from their friends and family, with some abusers withholding financial resources or medical aid.

“As of the writing of this letter, more than 300 million Americans in 42 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, as well as in several cities, local municipalities and Tribal communities are being advised to stay at home if at all possible. About 54 million K-12 students are no longer going to school in person, and millions of adults are out of work. As the pandemic continues, we expect these numbers to rise, and as a consequence, so will incidents of domestic violence,” the Senators wrote. “…Simply put, even though staying home is currently our best way to slow the spread of this deadly virus, home is not a safe place for people who experience domestic violence. As a result, communities around the country are reporting increased demands on victim service providers, which are facing new difficulties and complexities in assisting survivors.”


Arts & Culture

Baum School of Art offers “Artist-in your-Residence” online instruction, virtual scholarship awards
The Baum School of Art in Allentown has launched its online video instruction series called “Artist-In-Your-Residence.” The series will feature both brief lessons and more in-depth instruction that can be completed from home. Many of the lessons use basic art supplies that are commonly found in homes. Current video lessons include an optical illusion project, tonal gradient project, and a lesson based on Kandinsky’s “Squares with Concentric Circles.” The videos for all ages can be found at www.baumschool.org, or on the school’s YouTube channel, Facebook and Instagram.

Instructors will offer some more in-depth lessons in future videos in the series. The school will host its annual Children and Teen Scholarship Awards online at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 18. Visit the school on Facebook Live or its YouTube channel to see the ceremony. To make a donation to the school, buy a gift certificate or register for summer camp visit the website.

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