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Local coronavirus briefing - April 8, 2020

Gov. Wolf orders flags to half-staff to honor COVID-19 victims
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered commonwealth flags on all commonwealth facilities, public buildings and grounds fly at half-staff until further notice to honor the victims of the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic. “Too many Pennsylvanians have lost their lives to COVID-19, and, unfortunately, many more will die,” said Wolf. “Already we have lost friends, parents, grandparents and siblings. We have lost first responders. We have lost community members. Each of these Pennsylvanians is irreplaceable. Each deserves to be honored individually for their contributions to our commonwealth, but this cruel disease will not give us a respite to mourn. “This virus prevents us from honoring the dead at traditional gatherings. We cannot have funerals, wakes, or sit shiva. I hope this flag lowering provides some solace to the grieving families and friends. And, I hope it serves as a reminder of the reason for the sacrifices Pennsylvanians are making to help their community survive this crisis.” Commonwealth flags should be lowered to half-staff until a date to be announced after the pandemic passes. All Pennsylvanians are invited to participate in this tribute.

PA Department of Health reports 1,680 new positive COVID-19 cases, brings statewide total to 16,239
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that as of noon, there are 1,680 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 16,239. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 70 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 310. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. The number of cases reported by county in the region is: Bucks, 756 with 22 deaths; Chester, 373 with six deaths; Delaware, 1,034 with 23 deaths; Lehigh, 1,319 with 11 deaths; Montgomery, 1,521 with 37 deaths; Northampton, 857 with 17 deaths; and Philadelphia 4,456 with 87 deaths.

Mercer County, N.J., reports 992 positive COVID-19 cases as of today
The New Jersey Department of Health announced that as of April 8 there are 992 positive cases of COVID-19 in Mercer County and 28 deaths. To view data by municipality, visit the Mercer County COVID-19 dashboard at Municipal data lags behind the state data and will update after 5 p.m. daily.

PA/NJ Loop Trail System to close in New Jersey
The Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park in New Jersey is closed. The consequence of this action is that the PA/NJ Loop Trail System will not be usable. Park visitors will not be able to cross between the Delaware Canal towpath in Pennsylvania and the D&R Canal towpath in New Jersey at the following locations: Uhlerstown, Pa., - Frenchtown, N.J.; Lumberville, Pa., - Bulls Island, N.J.; Centre Bridge, Pa., - Stockton, N.J.; New Hope, Pa., - Lambertville, N.J.; Washington Crossing, Pa., - Washington Crossing, N.J.; and Morrisville, Pa., - Trenton, N.J. The Delaware Canal State Park towpath in Pennsylvania remains open for passive bicycling and walking. Currently the towpath is very crowded, so maintaining a distance of at least six feet apart is vital. If the park is too busy, consider returning at another time or exploring your backyard or neighborhood.

SEPTA slashes services throughout region
From the Inquirer: SEPTA is slashing service and urging an end to nonessential rides as it faces its third employee death from the coronavirus.

The “lifeline service schedule” goes into effect Thursday, closing a number of subway stations, limiting bus and trolley service, and suspending some Regional Rail lines.

Ten stations on the Market-Frankford Line; eight on the Broad Street Line and eight on the Broad-Ridge Spur. The 13th Street, 19th Street, 33rd Street, and 36th Street trolley stations, too, will close. Service will shrink to about 60 bus and trolley “core" routes, while Regional Rail’s Chestnut Hill East, Chestnut Hill West, Cynwyd, Manayunk/Norristown, West Trenton, and Wilmington Newark Lines will be suspended. Paoli/Thorndale and Lansdale/Doylestown Lines will be shortened.

Gov. Wolf signs order to provide targeted distribution of COVID-19 PPE and supplies to hospitals
Gov. Tom Wolf today signed an order to provide critical aid to hospitals with targeted PPE and supplies distribution. Gov. Wolf said. “Today, I am signing an order that will allow us to transfer supplies and information between medical facilities to both high-population, high-impact areas and lower population areas that might not have as many existing medical resources. This will also prevent sick Pennsylvanians from having to choose which hospital to go to for fear that some have less access to equipment than others and it will help us make use of every ventilator, every piece of PPE, and every medical worker.”