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Local coronavirus briefing - April 6, 2020

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PA Department of Health reports 1,470 new confirmed positives COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 12,980
The Pennsylvania Department of Health at noon today confirmed that there are 1,470 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 12,980 in 65 counties. The department also reported 12 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 162. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. Confirmed cases by county in the region are: Bucks, 619 and 17 deaths; Chester, 307 and three deaths; Delaware, 822 and 15 deaths; Lehigh, 1,006 and eight deaths; Montgomery, 1,230 and 18 deaths; Northampton, 716 and 12 deaths; Philadelphia, 3,211 and 28 deaths. There are 70,874 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows: less than 1% are aged 0-4; nearly 1% are aged 5-12; 1% are aged 13-18; 7% are aged 19-24; nearly 42% are aged 25-49; 29% are aged 50-64; and nearly 20% are aged 65 or older. Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date.


New Jersey reports county statistics for COVID-19
New Jersey reported 37,505 cases and 917 deaths today. Hunterdon County had 200 confirmed cases and two deaths and Mercer County had 654 cases and 16 deaths. In Hunterdon County, reported April 5, Lambertville reported 9 cases; Alexandria Township 2; Kingwood Township 2; Delaware Township 4; East Amwell Township 4; Flemington 8; Frenchtown 2; Stockton 0, Milford 0, and West Amwell 4.


Hunterdon Drug Awareness offering tele-health treatment services
In response to the COVID-19 virus, Hunterdon Drug Awareness Program has migrated to a 100% tele-health service delivery. Based in Flemington, N.J., HDAP provides outpatient treatment services for those affected by substance abuse and mental health disorders. HDAP has been providing intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and individual counseling. It is a nonprofit, state-licensed treatment center, serving Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset counties. This is a very difficult time for those who suffer from substance abuse and mental health issues, so it was imperative for the safety of the clients, the staff and the community, to provide services through tele-health with the least amount of service interruption as possible. The agency provides treatment to a broad range of people, regardless of their ability to pay. It is in-network with most major insurance companies. If you, a friend or family member are seeking information and/or treatment including scheduling an intake interview, contact HDAP at 908-788-1900.


First “Ask the Barracks” video response is online
The Old Barracks Museumin Trenton, N.J., is bringing history online. The first video response to a question submitted to “Ask the Barracks” is online today at www.barracks.org/askthebarracks. The question, submitted by a student named Matt, asks about what life on the frontier was like. Historical interpreter James responds with a video explaining the challenges of life during a different time. The “Ask the Barracks” program was announced on March 30. Due to the closures of schools and other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, thousands of students are going to miss their scheduled field trips to the Old Barracks Museum this spring. While visiting the historical landmark to learn about New Jersey’s pivotal role in the American Revolution is an immersive, hands-on experience that can’t be replicated online, the museum is eager to connect with students to allow them the opportunity to connect with history. “Ask the Barracks” encourages students, parents, and teachers to email questions about the American Revolution, the Battle of Trenton, diseases in the 18th century such as smallpox, and New Jersey to askthebarracks@barracks.org. Selected questions will be answered via email, the website, social media posts, and videos. Answers will be posted on www.barracks.org/askthebarracks and www.facebook.com/oldbarracksmuseum. This program is open to students around the world, not just students whose field trips are being cancelled due to school and non-essential business closures.


Northampton Township company donates 3,000 N-95 masks
Supreme Safety Inc. in Northampton Township has donated 3,000 N-95 masks to first responders in the area. Because of the donation, first responders from 49 agencies in Bucks and Montgomery counties – police, fire and EMS, as well as Bucks County Detectives – are better equipped to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Supreme Safety owner Annette Patchell said she ordered the masks in January when her supply ran out, and decided to donate the entire shipment rather than charging agencies for the protective gear. The donation, made Friday, came the same week Bucks County Emergency Services announced it had received a large shipment of much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) from several sources, including N-95 masks from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile. Emergency Services distributed the items among first responders, hospitals, long-term care centers and other in-need facilities.


Hunterdon Freeholders call on federal legislators to provide funding
Hunterdon County’s Freeholders have called on New Jersey’s U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski to ensure that the next round of federal economic stimulus aid gives priority to small-population counties like Hunterdon, which was cut out of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, along with six other New Jersey counties, because of having populations under 500,000. “The coronavirus does not respect County borders, as every individual matters and is facing this crisis, wherever they live. Funds should have been directed on a per capita basis, ensuring all areas of the state received a fair share,” Freeholder Board Director Shaun C. Van Doren wrote in a letter to the federal representatives. Fourteen New Jersey counties are sharing $31,961,123 in federal stimulus funds for economic development and infrastructure via the CARES Act, while seven counties received no direct county funding. “(It) is imperative that the areas with smaller populations, like Hunterdon County, that have been left entirely out of the first round of stimulus funding, be given priority status in the next stimulus bill considered by the Congress,” Van Doren wrote.


Mid-April predicted as “Pearl Harbor Moment” for COVID-19
The Center Square: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Sunday described the next week in the country's fight against COVID-19 as "our Pearl Harbor moment." Adams made the statement on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" when host Chuck Todd asked him how he would advise the nine U.S. governors who have not issued stay-at-home orders. "Here's what I would say to them right now: The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment. It's going to be our 9/11 moment," Adams said. "It's going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives. We really need to understand that if we want to flatten that curve and get to the other side, everyone needs to do their part." The latest projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations forecasts the U.S. will reach its peak for daily COVID-19 deaths on April 16. IHME, an independent health population research center at the University of Washington Medicine, said its model shows the U.S. will reach a high of 2,644 COVID-19 deaths a day on April 16. It forecasts 93,531 COVID-19 deaths in the country by Aug. 4. The model shows the U.S. will reach a hospital-resource-use peak on April 15, when 262,092 hospital beds are predicted to be needed, including 39,727 intensive care unit beds. IHME projections indicate the U.S. will have a shortage of 87,674 hospital beds and 19,863 ICU beds on that date.


Bucks County firefighter among coronavirus victims
One of the victims of COVID-19 has been identified as an assistant fire chief for the Tullytown Fire Company. Rick Johnson, 50, was a longtime volunteer firefighter and former chief of the company. Johnson's death was the first coronavirus-related fatality among Bucks County first responders, officials confirmed.


37 PA mayors call for federal government to increase production of medical supplies and coordinate
More than 30 mayors from across Pennsylvania were among 113 city leaders nationwide petitioning the federal government to use its emergency powers to ramp up production of critical medical supplies like ventilators and masks, and to centrally distribute those materials.

Health experts warn that a dearth of medical supplies -- from ventilators to N95 masks -- needed to safely treat people infected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) could lead to higher infection and death rates. However, the federal government and all 50 states are competing with each other to procure and distribute those crucial items.

The letter started by PennPIRG Education Fund’s national affiliate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, calls for the federal government to increase production of medical supplies and immediately establish a “medical equipment czar” and associated task force with the mission of overseeing the national supply and distribution of medical equipment for the duration of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. “We don’t have time to waste,” said PennPIRG Associate Emma Horst-Martz. “As soon as possible, we need to make sure that medical providers and first responders have the protective equipment they need. And we need to make sure that hospitals get more ventilators so that those medical providers can save the lives of thousands of Americans who will soon flood our hospitals.”

Among the mayors who signed the letter were Mayor Robert Donchez of Bethlehem; Mayor Sal Panto of Easton; Mayor Debbie Mahon of Hulmeville Borough; and Mayor Robert Winkler of Penndel Borough.


State’s capital access fund nearly exhausted
The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s new $100 million relief fund for small businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic is already exhausted, officials said last week. The COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA) provided loans up to $100,000 to businesses with 100 or fewer employees to cover operational costs in the three months prior to the statewide shutdown order implemented March 23. As of Tuesday, nearly 900 applicants had requested more than $75 million in relief.


Governor Murphy and Superintendent Callahan Authorize Municipalities and Counties to Restrict Short-Term Rentals
Gov. Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Col. Patrick Callahan announced an administrative order allowing municipalities and counties to impose additional restrictions on short-term rentals in response to COVID-19. Murphy previously signed Executive Order No. 108, permitting municipalities and counties to restrict online marketplaces for arranging and offering lodging. This administrative order gives municipalities and counties the ability to impose additional restrictions on the ability of hotels, motels, guest houses, or private residences, or parts thereof, to accept new transient guests or seasonal tenants after 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 5.

"We have heard too many stories, especially from our shore communities, of people trying to relocate, for the time being, into their towns from impacted areas," said Governor Murphy. "Many of our shore communities lack the health care infrastructure to accommodate an influx of part-time residents. New Jerseyans should stay at their primary place of residence for the duration of this emergency."

"The only way we will flatten the curve is by continuing to practice social distancing and by traveling only when necessary," said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. "This administrative order will empower vulnerable communities, like shore towns, allowing individual municipalities to impose restrictions, which will prevent people from relocating from more affected communities."

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