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Local coronavirus briefing - April 2, 2020

PA Department of Health confirms 1,211 new positive cases of COVID-19; statewide total stands at 7,016
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that as of noon, there are 1,211 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 7,016 in 62 counties. The department also reported 16 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 90. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. Cases by county are as follows: Bucks, 370 plus six deaths; Chester, 210 and two deaths; Delaware, 470 and eight deaths; Lehigh, 479 and five deaths; Montgomery, 735 and nine deaths; Philadelphia, 1,852 and 13 deaths. There are 47,698 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date, the age breakdown is as follows: nearly 1% are age 0-4; nearly 1% are age 5-12; 1% are age 13-18; nearly 9% are age 19-24; nearly 41% are age 25-49; nearly 29% are age 50-64; and 19% are age 65 or older. Most of the patients hospitalized are age 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Department of Agriculture Reassures Pennsylvanians: COVID-19 Not Transmissible through Food, Supply Chain is Secure
Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Department of Agriculture Food Safety Director Jeff Warner today assured Pennsylvanians that there is no evidence that human or animal food or food packaging is associated with transmission of COVID-19. Redding also reviewed the department’s recommendations to retail food and agriculture operations for continuity of business, inhibiting transmission and maintaining a healthy workforce to ensure continuous access to food during COVID-19. “I want to assure Pennsylvanians and ease their fear: food is safe,” said Warner. “There is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmissible through food or food packaging.” Grocery stores, food manufacturers and distributors have been provided guidance to protect their workforce and consumers from COVID-19. The guidance includes CDC and FDA recommendations, such as social distancing, limiting the number of customers in the store at one time and setting special hours for vulnerable populations. Guidance was also provided for sanitization and employee protection, to further inhibit transmission in manufacturing environments and grocery stores.

Lighting a candle is one way to say thanks
Carol and Preston Eckmeder suggested a way to thank the people who are continuing to work. In a blog called Pentreath and Hall it was suggested that we light a candle each night as a beacon of hope and a light in the darkness. In many places people are going out on their balconies at night and applauding or singing as a way to thank all those medical workers and others who are risking their lives to care for those stricken with COVID-19 and keeping the rest of us fed and cared for. Lighting a candle could be our way in Bucks County of doing the same thing

Insurance Department issues notice to auto insurers to highlight PennDOT extensions and urges flexibility during COVID-19 outbreak
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman announced that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department submitted to the Pennsylvania Bulletin a notice to all insurers writing automobile insurance, personal and commercial, within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 pandemic. The notice directs insurers to apply policy provisions consistent with PennDOT guidance surrounding license expiration dates and encourages additional flexibility in meeting the needs of policyholders.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch across the insurance industry, the department has remained committed to identifying possible areas of conflict and providing guidelines to insurers to ensure consumers are treated fairly,” said Altman. “PennDOT has extended drivers licenses that were set to expire from March 16 to April 30 until May 31, and we expect insurers to apply policy provisions consistent with that new guidance.”

The guidance also speaks to unique circumstances created by the COVID outbreak and suggests ways to provide benefits to policyholders. For instance, the PID has heard from carriers working with policyholders to ensure continued coverage for otherwise excluded commercial activity, such as restaurant staff using personal vehicles to deliver food and pharmacy personnel delivering life-sustaining medications. PID supports and encourages such flexibility. Finally, the guidance urges insurers to provide flexibility in covering rental car assistance to make sure that a policyholder with a car being repaired at a facility that is now closed may have coverage extended for the continued use of a rental vehicle.

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is adapting to stay at home orders
Based on COVID-19 public health recommendations and stay-at-home orders from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania governors, DVRPC staff are working from home until further notice. Staff are working together to minimize disruptions to work, while prioritizing the health and safety of all. Most staff remain available via email, phone, and virtual meetings. Visit DVRPC's employee directory for contact information. DVRPC’s public meetings are postponed or offered virtually until May.

Lenape Valley Foundation is maintaining services
Lenape Valley Foundation staff members are taking precautions and many services are being offered through video and phone. The crisis services employees, embedded in hospital emergency rooms, are truly on the frontlines of this disaster and are providing the same 24/7 services that we typically provide. Residential programs are operational and continue to provide housing and support. Mobile services staff are making home visits when needed and offering other supports by phone. The administration and board of directors at Lenape Valley Foundation are working to assure services continue to be delivered to those most in need, while maintaining staff on payroll. The foundation is negotiating with payors to assure our workforce is able to feel secure during this time of such uncertainty.

Gov. Wolf, Secretary of Health issue statewide stay-at-home order
Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced last night that all 67 Pennsylvania counties will be under stay-at-home orders starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at 8 p.m. “This is the most prudent option to stop the spread of COVID-19 across our commonwealth, where cases continue to grow daily,” Gov. Wolf said. “We appreciate the shared sacrifice of all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians; we are in this together and this statewide stay-at-home order is being made after many discussions with multiple state agencies; Dr. Levine; and state, county and local officials as we continue to monitor the most effective ways to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

State disciplinary board suspends all hearings until June 1
The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an additional order in response to the novel Coronavirus 19 (Covid-19) regarding all pending disciplinary and reinstatement matters. All in-person prehearing conferences, hearings, and arguments currently scheduled between the date of the order and June 1 are continued and are to be rescheduled by the board prothonotary for a date after June 1. Any filing deadline that occurs between the date of the order and June 1, shall be extended for 20 days from the date the filing is due.

Water and wastewater resources pose no risk for residents
According to the U.S. EPA: “The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.”

State officials issue plea to stop hoarding
(The Center Square) - As Pennsylvania braces for another month of social distancing, state officials pleaded with residents to stop panic buying and supply hoarding. There’s more than enough for everyone, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding says, and there will continue to be thanks to an industry long prepared for the disruptions a viral outbreak can cause. "Pennsylvania's supply chain is solid – farmers, production facilities, and truckers are all still working," Redding said. "Buying more than you need only hurts other Pennsylvanians; it hurts those working to provide these essentials, it hurts your neighbors, and it hurts our food banks."
Chris Herr, executive vice president of the PennAg Industries Association, said the state’s farmers understand the threat of animal borne pathogens better than most. Last year, the Department of Agriculture placed limits on livestock coming into the state after an outbreak of African Swine Fever in China killed one quarter of the world’s pigs. "The idea that you couldn’t get food ramps this up to a whole different level and so protecting our food supply and understanding that this is an essential part of our being has been our main focus," Herr said. "It really emphasizes what is essential in our lives."

State Police reinforce commitment to prevent, investigate bias-based crimes
The Pennsylvania State Police recently disseminated a letter to local, state, and federal stakeholders to affirm the department’s continued support of the Asian American communities throughout the commonwealth. Across the country, law enforcement has seen an increasing number of incidents targeting members of this community due to misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Asian American community and other minority groups should know that the state police take every allegation of hate/bias crime seriously, and each complaint receives a full investigation,” said Col. Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “We will not tolerate hate or bias of any kind in Pennsylvania.”

The PSP Heritage Affairs Section is a unit dedicated to the prevention and investigation of hate/bias crimes and incidents. Members of the Heritage Affairs Section routinely meet with stakeholders on a proactive basis to address their concerns and maintain open lines of communication between their communities and law enforcement. To date, the PSP has not investigated any hate/bias crimes related to COVID-19 targeting Asian American communities in Pennsylvania. If you feel you, or someone you know is a victim of a hate/bias crime or incident, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Pennsylvania waives spay/neuter requirement for adoptions, conserves PPE for human health care professionals
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced today that in an effort to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for human healthcare workers, the Pennsylvania Dog Law that requires shelters and rescues to spay/neuter dogs and cats prior to adoption would be waived for pets adopted during active COVID-19 mitigation efforts in Pennsylvania. “This waiver is not something we take lightly; but it’s a matter of weighing the costs,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Waiving the requirement to spay or neuter prior to adoption allows us to conserve critical PPE supplies and also limit the risk of exposure for veterinarians.” The waiver comes with a contingency: Shelters must keep a list of adopters to follow up with post-pandemic and provide a copy of all contracts to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. Once the pandemic is in the past, shelters would be required to follow up on all pets adopted during COVID-19 mitigation. Adoptive pet owners will have up to 120 days from the time of adoption – time frame to be re-evaluated as necessary – to have the procedure completed and come into compliance.

State Sens. Maria Collett, Lindsey Williams announce legislation to protect frontline workers
State Sens. Maria Collett and Lindsey M. Williams announced they are introducing legislation to provide workers in health care facilities, public assistance workers, other direct support professionals, and first responders with the tools they need to maintain their mental and physical health as they work to keep us all safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation, based on American Working Family Relief Action Plan, would provide support to these front-line workers in several ways. It would:
– Provide emergency funding for safety equipment, including personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, and mental health supports for healthcare workers and other public sector workers classified as essential;
– Create clear standards for the implementation of containment control plans in healthcare facilities, including emergency standards and accountability;
– Prioritize front-line workers in COVID-19 testing;
– Suspend, or limit, in-person services to the greatest extent possible by shifting to virtual assistance working standards for public workers classified as essential;
– Require cleaning standards for workplaces that remain open during this crisis to meet or exceed state and federal standards for COVID-19 prevention.

PHMC’s historic sites and museums to remain closed through April 30
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) Executive Director Andrea Lowery today announced that all of PHMC’s state-owned historic sites and museums will remain closed through Thursday, April 30, to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. PHMC continues to reevaluate its operations, guided by the strategy developed by the governor’s office and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. PHMC staff continues to work remotely and will respond to inquiries received by voicemail and email as soon as possible. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Learn more by visiting PHMC online or following the agency on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

Theater groups invited to join effort to make PPE for senior living communities
In partnership with Music Theatre International and the American Senior Housing Association, Juniper Communities is launching an initiative to inspire the public to help make or gather Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and donate it to a local senior living community. Send in the Gowns is uniquely focused on reaching out to theater groups and costumers as many of them have access to sewing teams, fabric, elastic and other materials needed to make gowns, face masks, and face shields to help in the fight against COVID-19. However, anyone can join the cause. Directions for how to make the PPE can be found at “The campaign called “Send in the Gowns” is a playoff of the classic Broadway tune, “Send in the Clowns,” explained Lynne Katzmann, CEO and founder of Juniper Communities. “…we’re calling on our theater friends to help equip us with a new kind of costuming – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These costumes may not be glamorous, but they’re necessary to keep our residents and those who care for them safe during COVID-19.” Join the campaign at #SendInTheGowns and #WeWillGetThroughThisTogether. Connect with Juniper at or reach out to a senior living community near you.

Penn State Extension offers free online courses
Penn State Extension is offering more than 50 courses from its online library for free through the month of April. “With our online learning, you get the practical, usable, science-based knowledge you need to weather the current storm and make progress with your health, your family, your community, and your business. Our online courses are accessible anywhere, anytime, online, at your own pace,” the Extension said. Get on-demand access from Penn State subject matter experts in areas like: food safety, nutrition, and preparation; best agricultural practices; horticulture; environmental stewardship; community involvement; successful business; and healthy families. Some of the courses offer certificates and/or continuing education credits. See the online course catalog for information and registration.

New Britain Police administration offices close due to COVID-19; officers on-duty to respond to calls
Due to the concerns with COVID-19, the New Britain Township police department administration offices have closed. The building is closed to citizens until further notice.

The police officers are on duty 24/7 and are responding to calls for service. To speak with an officer, for a copy of a report and other non-emergency needs, call the non-emergency number 215-328-5006. The dispatcher will take your information, relay it to an officer on duty, and the officer will call you back. As always, if you have a true emergency, dial 9-1-1.

National Prescription Drug Takeback Day postponed
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day scheduled for Saturday, April 25, is postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. DEA will reschedule Take Back Day for a date shortly after the health crisis recedes and national emergency guidelines are lifted. Given the overwhelming public response to past Take Back events and the anticipated large turnout for April's event, DEA determined it would be prudent to suspend the event until safety concerns are mitigated.
Since 2010, Take Back Day events have provided easy, anonymous opportunities to remove medicines in the home that are highly susceptible to misuse, abuse, and theft. Through the National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative, DEA, along with its partners throughout the country, has collected nearly 12.7 million pounds of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription medications. DEA will resume this public service as soon as safely possible. For updates and information on DEA's Take Back events, visit

Bucks County Register of Wills announces pilot project to open probate estates and obtain marriage licenses via videoconferencing
The ongoing judicial emergency for Bucks County has closed the Register of Wills Office through at least April 14 for all but emergency needs. This Judicial Emergency may need to be extended to combat the COVID-19 virus. Bucks County Register of Wills Linda Bobrin recognizes that, despite the ongoing health crisis, estates still need to be opened and that people are still seeking to be married. Accordingly, Bobrin announces the initiation of a pilot program that utilizes teleconferencing technology to open estates and to obtain marriage licenses. For information and instructions on how to apply, visit If you have questions or need help with new procedures, email Indicate in the subject line if your question involves probate or marriage and include a contact phone number. This is a pilot program designed to address the present emergency. Bobrin asks the patience and indulgence of the public and attorneys as staff get this program up and running.

Residential bulk drop off on Saturdays in Hunterdon County is canceled until at least May
Hunterdon County’s Division of Solid Waste has announced that the Saturday residential bulk waste drop off at the County Transfer Station on Petticoat Lane in Clinton Township, N.J., is presently closed until at least May, due to the Governor’s COVID-19 Executive Orders. Residential recycling may still be dropped off at the Recycling area at the Transfer Station, between the hours of 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, and 7 to 10 a.m., Saturdays. Residents are directed to observe social distancing when delivering recycling materials. Check the Hunterdon County Website for updates,

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board resumes limited E-commerce sales, deliveries
Beginning today, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board resumed limited sales from, accepting a controlled number of orders per day with plans to increase order capacity as fulfillment capacity increases. Customers will be limited to purchasing up to six bottles per transaction from a reduced catalogue of about 1,000 top-selling wines and spirits. All orders must be shipped to home or non-store addresses, and only one order per address will be fulfilled per day. Access to will be randomized to avoid overwhelming the site with high traffic, prevent order abuse and prolong access throughout the day, so that order availability isn’t exhausted in seconds or minutes each day. The PLCB will be fulfilling orders from various facilities and is implementing public health best practices like facility sanitation, social distancing, and limiting the numbers of employees working in any facility at a time in an effort to protect its employees. As order fulfillment capacity increases, the PLCB will consider increasing the number of orders it takes each day. The PLCB is not considering reopening stores at this time, although the agency continues to monitor the situation in consultation with the Wolf Administration and public health officials. Consumers are reminded that the sale of alcoholic beverages without a license is strictly prohibited under Pennsylvania law. For information about the PLCB, visit

DCNR provides guidance on outdoor activities during coronavirus outbreak
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today reminded Pennsylvanians that being outdoors is good health care and self care, but recommendations for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus still apply. Dunn noted the best advice to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to stay at home. Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running is allowed if social distancing is maintained.
Some tips for avoiding groups of people outdoors include:
• If you have a yard, spend time there outdoors every day.
• If possible, take a walk around your neighborhood with the people in your family, as long as you can stay six feet away from neighbors.
• If you decide to leave your neighborhood, plan for several alternate locations, so if you arrive at your first one and there are crowds, you can move on.
• Choose a less busy time of day, such as early morning.
• Find a local park or trail that offers enough space for social distancing. Pennsylvania has more than 6,000 local parks that are identified on an interactive map.
• Some municipalities have closed local parks to protect visitors and employees, so check the status of the park before you go. If the park is open, bathrooms and water fountains likely will not be, so plan ahead.
• There also are more than 12,000 miles of trails in Pennsylvania, most of which remain accessible during this period. Find a nearby trail at
State park and forest facilities such as restrooms, playgrounds, and all overnight accommodations are closed, and staff is limited. The public can access lands and trails.

Phoenix Art Supplies & Framing seeks GoFund Me contributions to help save store following shutdown
Crowdfunding assistance is needed to ensure independently owned Phoenix Art Supplies & Framing is able to re-open after the government-mandated shutdown. The store in Doylestown is owned by Margaret Mattheson, since 2008, with Jenny Schaeffer hired to manage the picture-framing portion of the business in 2010. Today, Schaeffer is the store manager and working to take over ownership as Mattheson begins to move into retirement. The intention is that this women-owned business would be passed to the next generation, thus supporting both Margaret’s retirement and Jenny’s future, while ensuring the continuance of this local arts resource. However, none of that may happen due to the government-ordered shutdown of retail due to the coronavirus pandemic. As with most small businesses, cash reserves are limited and quickly depleted when income abruptly disappears in the matter of days. Government emergency loans and compensation have been applied for, but are slow to process and receive. Therefore, they need your help in the interim. “As with all small businesses, the absence of the last remaining locally-owned art supply and picture framing store would significantly impact the lives of Bucks County residents by leaving a cultural void while also losing employee wages and tax dollars that benefit the community,” reads an email from Phoenix. To help save Phoenix Art Supplies & Framing, contribute at: