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Daily local coronavirus briefing - April 18, 2020

Posted
The next Herald Local Coronavirus Briefing will appear Monday, April 20. 
 
Trends

PA Department of Health provides update on COVID-19, 1,628 positives bring statewide total to 31,069
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of noon April 18, that there are 1,628 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 31,069. The department also reported 80 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 836. Bucks County had 1,619 cases and 75 deaths; Chester County had 796 cases and 36 deaths; Delaware County had 2,317 cases and 77 deaths; Lehigh had 2,141 cases and 29 deaths; Montgomery County had 2,781 cases and 106 deaths; Northampton County had 1,396 cases and 29 deaths; Philadelphia had 8,502 cases and 136 deaths.


New Jersey announces state COVID-19 cases at 701,610 with 37,055 deaths
The New Jersey Department of Health announced that as of April 18, the state had 701,610 cases and 37,055 deaths and 59,492 recoveries. There are 2,215 Mercer County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 110 people have died. Hopewell Township has 46 cases; Hopewell Borough 3 cases; Princeton has 64 cases; Trenton 563 cases.

Hunterdon County lists 3,914 cases and 17 deaths. Flemington has 14 cases; Frenchtown 4 cases; Stockton none; Milford two; Lambertville 13; Clinton 46; Delaware Township 10; East Amwell nine; Kingwood seven; Raritan 60 and West Amwell six.
 
Government

Gov. Wolf announces nearly $16 million in funding for Pennsylvania food banks
Gov. Tom Wolf today announced nearly $16 million in funding for Pennsylvania food banks, which are providing critical assistance to Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 health crisis. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has received $14.9 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Pennsylvania to provide critical support and food to Pennsylvania’s food banks and emergency food assistance network working to feed the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. These funds were provided as a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was passed by Congress and enacted into law on March 18.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will push $3.75 million in TEFAP money directly to 18 food banks in Pennsylvania to cover administrative costs associated with storage, transportation and distribution of USDA Foods. In addition to this direct funding, the department will distribute $11.15 million in USDA Foods – including meats, vegetables, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to the state’s food banks to distribute through their network of distribution sites. The food and funding will be disbursed statewide to all 67 counties and distributed according to population and need.

Additionally, through an emergency contract with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is providing Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and its network of members $1 million in emergency funding for food and supplies.


Veterans benefits Continue to be available during COVID-19
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) wants to assure veterans that state and federal benefits processing are still ongoing. The DMVA and the Federal VA both continue to work remotely to provide veterans’ information, enroll for benefits, and serve other veterans’ needs throughout this difficult pandemic emergency.

The DMVA administers an array of programs and services to meet the needs of veterans. They include: Veterans Temporary Assistance/Military Family Relief Assistance programs; Records Request Program; Amputee, Paralyzed and Blind Veterans Pension programs; Educational Gratuity Program; and the Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption Program.

Applications for these programs are traditionally initiated with the county director for veterans affairs (CDVA) staff and their contact information can be found at https://www.dmva.pa.gov/veteransaffairs/Documents/Outreach-and-Reintegration/countyprint.pdf. If a CDVA is not available due to county office closure, the veteran may contact DMVA’s Office of Veterans Affairs directly at 800-547-2838. For information and updates on all of DMVA’s programs and services, visit https://www.dmva.pa.gov/veteransaffairs.


L&I plans launch of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) website
Pennsylvania’s new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) website for self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not eligible for regular unemployment compensation (UC) will begin accepting applications within the next few days. PUA is included in the new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) will announce when the PUA website is ready to accept applications. In the meantime, Pennsylvanians who meet eligibility requirements are strongly encouraged to begin gathering the information they will need to file an accurate claim and receive benefits quickly.

Acceptable documentation for proof of employment or self-employment can include, but is not limited to: Copies of recent paycheck stubs; Bank receipts showing deposits; 1099s; Billing notices provided to your customers; Recent advertisements for your business or services; Statements from recent customers; Current business licenses, ledgers, contracts, invoices; and/or Building leases.

Acceptable documentation of wages to show previous income can include, but is not limited to: Tax returns; Paycheck stubs; Bank receipts; Ledgers; Contracts; Invoices; and/or Billing statements.


Community Support

LoveBucks T-shirt sales to fund gift cards for health care workers
Due to recent events, there will not be any large-scale group running events held in the foreseeable future. Pat McCloskey works most of the year by himself, planning foot races in Bucks County. Luckily, he has a creative side. He thought about designing and selling sweatshirts and T-shirts with a supportive LoveBucks graphic to spread the idea, “Love Local, Spend Local, Pay It Forward.’’

Proceeds from the sales will be used to buy gift cards from local Bucks County eateries. Those gift cards will then be donated to front-line healthcare workers and other critical workforce personnel. Some health care locations are not allowing food donations, therefore gift cards are a helpful way to show gratitude. Shirts can be ordered at the runBucks website, www.runbucks.com.

Participating merchants include: Tony’s Place Bar & Grille, Ivyland; Naked Brewing, Southampton; Chickie’s & Pete’s, Warrington; Pizzeria Uno, Warrington; and The Farm House Tavern, Doylestown. Bucks County area eateries wanting to get involved are encouraged to contact McCloskey at LoveBucks@runBUCKS.com.

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