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Daily local coronavirus briefing - April 15, 2020

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New Jersey, Hunterdon, Mercer reports on positive COVID-19 cases
The New Jersey Department of Health said that as of 1 p.m. today, the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 was 71,030 and the total number of deaths was 3,156. A total of 1,856 Mercer County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 76 people have died. A total of 356 Hunterdon County residents have tested positive, and 14 have died. The number of cases per municipality in Hunterdon County, as of April 14, was Flemington 11; Frenchtown 5; Stockton 0; Milford 2; Lambertville 12; Town of Clinton 14; Clinton Township 44; Delaware Township 9; East Amwell Township 8; Kingwood Township 7; Raritan Township 58; West Amwell Township 4. Mercer County is also tracking data at the municipal level. To view statistics by municipality, visit the Mercer County COVID-19 dashboard at https://arcg.is/1y1eHO.


PA Department of Health said 1,145 positives cases of COVID-19 brings statewide total to 26,490
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that as of noon there are 1,145 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 26,490. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 63 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 647. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. The number of cases by county is: Bucks, 1,300 and 51 deaths; Chester 658 and 25 deaths; Delaware 1.882 and 59 deaths; Lehigh 1,922 and 25 deaths; Montgomery, 2,475 and 82 deaths; Northampton 1,251 and 25 deaths; and Philadelphia 7,347 and 132 deaths.


Community Support

Bucks IU helps coordinate the distribution of sanitizing solution throughout Bucks County
The Bucks County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was recently contacted by Cityline Construction of Allentown with the offer to provide EPA-approved surface sanitizing solution to be used as a germicide in the ongoing efforts to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus. Scott Forster, director of Bucks County Emergency Service, reached out to Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) Director of Operations Kasey Kollar to help coordinate the distribution of Cityline Construction’s generous donation. Today the Bucks IU Safety Team, along with trucks and personnel from various Bucks County school districts, arrived at Cityline Construction’s offices in Allentown to load up 2,500, one-gallon containers of this solution. This much-needed sanitizer was then transported by the assisting school districts (Centennial, Central Bucks, Quakertown, and Neshaminy) to predetermined warehouse locations for storage and future distribution to first responder agencies (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) and public schools throughout Bucks County.


Keystone restructures programs to more safely serve clients during COVID-19
In order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, while still meeting the dramatically growing needs of community members, Keystone Opportunity Center in Souderton has restructured its vital food, housing and education programs.
Housing: Keystone’s many programs, which help those experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, including Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Supportive Housing, Low-Cost Rental Units and Community Case Management, are continuing to operate at full function, with staff working remotely.

Education: Keystone’s vital adult education classes, which help people become self-sufficient, have been restructured so they can continue via distance learning. All four High School Equivalency classes switched to online learning as the students in the classes continue preparing for the GED or HiSET subject tests in anticipation of the re-opening of testing centers. In early April, Keystone’s ESL classroom instructors, along with Keystone’s volunteer tutors, transitioned currently-enrolled students to online learning. Once this program becomes established, new students whose classes were scheduled to begin in mid-March will be contacted. Two of Keystone’s courses, Family Literacy and Citizenship, will pick up again at a later date.

Food: Keystone’s food pantry clients continue to be served. The pantry provides a once-per-month food distribution to approximately 250 families. Keystone’s pantry clients made their March pickups at the pantry. But for the April distribution, instead of making clients use what little funds they have left to drive to the pantry, to support the public health goal of everyone staying at home to reduce the spread of the disease, and to eliminate the need to have a large group of volunteers working together in the very small pantry where social distancing is simply not possible, Keystone has moved to delivering client bags to homes. For information, visit www.KeystoneOpportunity.org.


Business

Doylestown business organize “Virtual” Small Business Saturday to ensure their survival
While Pennsylvania Legislators are discussing what partially reopening businesses could look like with social distancing in place, the reality is that with each passing day small businesses are having to make the hard decision to never open their doors again because of the economic fallout. To combat this, a group of businesses in Doylestown have banded together to generate their own way of staving off extinction, by creating a “Virtual” Small Business Saturday that is scheduled for April 25. More than 20 shops, boutiques and stores have listed how customers can still shop and support them, whether it be through online sales, safe distance curbside pickups, gift cards, or other options. A full list of participating stores is available on the Discover Doylestown website.
 

PA businesses approved for over $9.9 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration said its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has approved 1,035,086 loans for a total amount of $247,543,393,521 through 4,664 participating lenders nationwide. Seventy percent of the loans approved were for amounts under $150,000. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 36,604 loans were approved for $9,910,549,957, placing Pennsylvania in the top 10 states based on both loan dollars and the total number of loans made since the PPP began accepting applications.


Government

Doylestown, Quakertown airports receive FAA grants
Sixty-three Pennsylvania airports, including Doylestown and Quakertown, will receive a combined total of more than $239 million in new funding from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a result of the CARES Act, the latest coronavirus relief legislation, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey announced. “Pennsylvania’s airports provide an essential service to travelers and stimulate our local economies,” said Casey. “With a steep decline in travel and revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our airports need help to continue operations and save employees’ jobs. I was proud to advocate for our commonwealth’s airports to receive funding from the CARES Act and I am pleased that the FAA plans to implement a streamlined grant process to expedite this funding for critical airport needs. I will continue to work to ensure that our workers and our airports receive the resources they need to manage through this pandemic.” Doylestown will receive $69,000; Quakertown, $30,000.

CHIP to maintain enrollment for families During COVID-19 crisis
The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced that it is making temporary changes to Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to keep families enrolled in CHIP for the duration of the public health emergency and to ease access to medical services for children being screened or receiving treatment for COVID-19. The following changes are in effect for CHIP until the end of the public health emergency:
 
• Families will not be denied or disenrolled from coverage for administrative or financial reasons. An example of an administrative reason is not being able to provide proof of income.
• Families will not pay a copay for services that are for COVID-19 screening, testing or treatment.
• Families who cannot provide paperwork to verify information on an application or renewal, can provide self-attestation of information by signing the application or renewal.
• Families will be given more time to pay premiums, if needed.

Families still must provide verification of information presented on an application and are still responsible for copays for services not related to COVID-19. Testing and treatment services related to COVID-19 are covered. Families are also still responsible to pay premiums if applicable. If a family is unable to pay premiums because of a decrease or loss of income, the family must contact their managed care organization immediately and can request the MCO to perform a “reassessment” because of an income change at any time. Details on how to apply for CHIP can be found at https://www.chipcoverspakids.com/ApplyandRenew/Pages/Apply.aspx.


Arts & Culture

Join the Michener online in celebration of Earth Day
Join the Michener Museum online as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In conjunction with the Michener’s upcoming exhibition, “Rising Tides: Contemporary Art and the Ecology of Water,” tune in for performances, discussions and presentations that will focus on how artists and community members are tackling the critical issues surrounding climate change. All programs are free with pre-registration. Zoom links are provided after registration. Programs include: Bucks County Free Library presents the NJ Snake Man; Ants on a Log! For Lunch!; Student Climate Panel; Art of Stillness: Earth Day Edition!; Backyards to Big Farms: Biodiversity in our Food Systems; and Happy Hour with Rising Tides Artists. Visit the Michener online for information, or follow the museum on social media for its video series like #MichenerMadeMondays.


Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day with “Nature Lover’s Bingo”
To celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and Arbor Day on April 24, Doylestown Township’s Environmental Advisory Council hosts “Nature Lover's Bingo,” an opportunity for families and individuals to get creative in nature. Complete a square, snap a photo, and share and tag @DOYLESTOWNTWP. The game board can be found HERE on the township website.

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