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Local coronavirus briefing - March 16, 2020

Posted
Press defined as an essential service
PEMA Directive 2008 addresses use of commonwealth roadways during a state of emergency, and it contains a news media provision. The press is defined among the other ‘essential services’ like health care workers, first responders, etc. under the directive. The directive was passed in 2008, with no expiration, but it could be updated at any time.
 

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania declares General Statewide Judicial Emergency
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today declared a statewide judicial emergency effective until April 14.

With the emergency declaration in place, county president judges are authorized to declare individual county judicial emergencies through April 14, should they deem it appropriate to protect the health and safety of staff, court users and the community. Specifically, counties operating under local judicial emergencies shall have the authority to: suspend time calculations for the purposes of time computation relevant to court cases or other judicial business, as well as time deadlines, subject to constitutional restrictions; authorize additional uses of advanced communications technology to conduct court proceedings, subject to constitutional restrictions; and take any action permitted pursuant to Rule of Judicial Administration 1952(B)(2), including restrictions or temporary closures of court facilities. Judicial Districts operating under the emergency declaration will arrange for the provision of essential judicial services, including arraignments and bail establishment hearings and protection from abuse act proceedings.
 

Gov. Wolf extends shutdown to combat COVID-19
As the number of Pennsylvanians who have tested positive for COVID-19 reached 76 today, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania to close to help combat the spread of the virus. In a press conference Monday, the governor said mitigation efforts in place in five counties will be extended statewide. All restaurants and bars in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties were ordered to close their dine-in facilities Sunday. Non-essential retail businesses required to close statewide include gyms, theaters, malls, salons, entertainment venues and community centers. The governor said he anticipated the closures would last at least two weeks. It was previously announced state liquor stores will close for two weeks starting Tuesday. A statewide school closure was announced Friday and also will last at least two weeks. “I know for all of us the next few weeks are going to be challenging,” Wolf said. “Please stay calm, stay safe, stay home. We’re going to get through this.”
 

Allentown hospital employee has been self-quarantined at home in Bethlehem
Pennsylvania’s new coronavirus cases jumped by 16 to a total of 63 on Sunday, with Lehigh County reporting its first case — a Bethlehem resident who works at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Allentown — and three new ones recorded in Monroe County, bringing that county’s total to six. The breakdown of Pennsylvania cases before noon today was 24 in Montgomery County; Delaware, seven; Philadelphia, six; Monroe, six; Cumberland, five; Bucks, four; Allegheny, three; Chester, two; and Lehigh, Northampton, Wayne, Pike, Luzerne and Washington counties, one each. The first presumptive positive case in Lehigh County is an employee at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Allentown, the hospital announced Sunday.The Bethlehem Health Department reported the same case earlier in the day as being in the Lehigh County part of the city, officials say.
 

PA Turnpike temporarily will not accept cash
Cash customers should NOT stop at tollbooths; they’ll be invoiced by mail starting at 8 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is alerting motorists that cash will not be accepted at any interchange statewide beginning tonight at 8 p.m. This is a temporary safety measure to keep travelers moving with no need to stop at tollbooths or interact with tolling personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, cash and credit cards will not be accepted anywhere on the PA Turnpike’s ticket system. All tolls will be assessed electronically via E-ZPass or the PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE program as vehicles travel at posted speed limits through tolling points. “This temporary measure is critical to enable us to support the Commonwealth in its efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “I want to be clear that we will return to normal toll-collection operations as soon as it becomes practical.” Customers who do not have an E-ZPass account should continue to use lanes marked “Tickets” on entry and “Cash” on exit, however they should keep moving through the lane at the posted speed without stopping. Instead of paying their toll on the roadway, they will receive a PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE invoice through the mail.


Public hearings on proposal to add PFAS to environmental cleanup regulations canceled
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has canceled three public hearings to gather public input on proposed rulemaking that would amend state regulation to establish groundwater and soil cleanup standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at contaminated properties. Interested individuals are invited to instead submit written comments, suggestions, support, or objections regarding this proposed rulemaking to the board, which must be received by April 30, 11:59 p.m. Written comments should be mailed to the Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477. Express mail should be sent to the Environmental Quality Board, Rachel Carson State Office Building, 16th Floor, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301. Comments may also be submitted online at ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment or via email at RegComments@pa.gov (a subject heading of this proposed rulemaking and a return name and address must be included).

The proposed rulemaking amends Title 25, Chapter 250 (Administration of the Land Recycling Program) of the Pennsylvania Code, which encourages the voluntary cleanup and reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial sites, to add soil and groundwater medium specific concentrations (MSC) for three PFAS compounds – PFBS, PFOS and PFOA.
 

Department of Drug and Alcohol programs encourages provider partnerships outside of Southeast Mitigation Region
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jennifer Smith is asking southeast drug and alcohol treatment providers to develop partnerships with providers outside of their region to accommodate capacity, as needed.“As the commonwealth comes together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I am urging drug and alcohol treatment providers to work together to ensure all Pennsylvanians have access to treatment,” said Sec. Smith. “For individuals with substance use disorder, including those with alcohol use disorder, services to manage withdrawal symptoms are important. Providers who are near capacity in the southeast region, please ensure your continuity plans involve partnerships with entities outside the affected counties.” Providers should contact their local Single County Authority (SCA) who can help facilitate partnerships in other counties. For a listing of SCAs, visit DDAP’s website here.
 

Perkasie Borough Council meeting will take place
Perkasie Borough will hold a brief council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday March 16 at Perkasie Borough Hall, 620 W. Chestnut St, Perkasie 18944. The agenda will be limited to three essential items of borough business. While the meeting is open to the public, the borough requests that recent travelers or persons with upper respiratory symptoms do not attend. Borough council had originally planned to welcome Perkasie’s new police chief, Robert Schurr as he takes his oath of office. In the interests of public safety, Chief Schurr was sworn in during a private event at Borough Hall today, Friday March 13.
 

PennDOT Implements Additional Operational Changes in Response to COVID-19
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is implementing the following operational changes in response to Governor Wolf’s mitigation guidance regarding COVID-19. All Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers in Bucks and Chester counties will be closed for two weeks effective close of business on Saturday, March 14: Bensalem Driver/Photo License Center, 4201 Neshaminy Blvd., Bensalem; Dublin Driver/Photo License Center, Dublin Village Plaza, 161 N. Main St., Dublin; Langhorne Photo License Center, AAA Mid-Atlantic, 516 N. Oxford Valley Road, Langhorne; Malvern Driver/Photo License Center, Lincoln Court Shopping Center, 225 Lancaster Ave., Malvern; and Oxford Photo License Center, Wiggins Auto Tags, 310 Limestone Road, Oxford. These closures are in addition to those announced in Montgomery and Delaware counties.
 

DCNR Closing State Parks in Bucks and Chester counties
Today, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced that eight state parks in Bucks and Chester counties will be closed for 14 days effective March 15 to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This follows DCNR’s announcement of the closure of Montgomery County state parks, Ridley Creek in Delaware County, and the cancellation of state park and forest programs. “As part of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, all of the buildings at state parks in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, including the park offices, restrooms, and parking lots, will be closed, and all events and public educational programs are canceled,” Dunn said. “There will be no services, and we advise people not to visit state parks that are closed, however trails and roads that pass through parks and forestlands remain open, especially as some are transportation routes or are in neighborhoods that people access them from.” Dunn added that state park rangers and the park manager will continue to work to ensure security and public safety.

The closures in Bucks and Chester counties include: Delaware Canal, Marsh Creek, Neshaminy, Nockamixon, Ralph Stover, Tyler, Washington Crossing, and White Clay Creek state parks, and the Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens.

All public programs, events, and trainings in state parks and forests are canceled through April 30. As such, the Delaware Canal Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday April 9 has been cancelled. Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, July 9; location TBD.
 

Bucks County SPCA discontinues public hours
The Bucks County SPCA discontinued public hours beginning on Sunday, March 15. The organization will, however, continue to offer limited public services which will be available by appointment only. Staff and volunteers will continue to provide essential animal care 7 days a-week. We will be available to answer phone calls daily between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm to schedule appointments for limited public services as listed below. Contact the Lahaska Shelter at 215-794-7425, the Quakertown Shelter: 267-347-4674. The shelters will not be able to accept walk-in intake of animals from the public, walk-in adoption requests; and walk-in donations of supplies.


Women’s History Awards cancelled
The Bucks County Women’s History Month Award ceremony originally scheduled for March 19, will be rescheduled for a date to be determined in Fall 2020. For more information, email rebecca.custer77@gmail.com. Minutes from the previous January meeting will be released soon.
 

Department of Aging releases COVID-19 guidance for senior centers
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has released COVID-19 guidance to the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) related to the operations of over 500 affiliated senior community centers operating statewide. This temporary guidance provides operational flexibility to help meet the needs of older adults who use the centers, while ensuring their safety. AAAs make the determination to temporarily close a senior community center in their planning and service area due to COVID-19 unless specifically directed by the Governor’s Office. The COVID-19 guidance requests that the AAAs planning to close senior centers have a contingency plan for how essential nutrition services will be provided; how referrals to other community resources will be established; how outreach efforts to isolated senior center participants will be conducted and how the AAA will communicate information about the closure and service options to senior center participants.

A central activity at many centers is the offering of congregate meals. During the COVID-19 emergency, the Department is offering flexibility as to how a AAA and senior center can meet the nutritional needs of its members. The options include: offering meals as a take-out meal that participants can pick up; packaging and delivering meals to participants’ homes; offering shelf-stable, frozen and grab-and-go meals; Enrolling participant in the OPTIONS Program for in-home meal service.
 

Wild Birds Unlimited offers home delivery
The shop is business-as-usual through Wednesday, March 18; and close from Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 29. The shop will reopen Monday, March 30. From Monday to Wednesday of this week, curbside pickup is offered and a limited home delivery program will be in effect during the time the shop is closed.
 

Drive-through only at the First National Bank and Trust Co.
Beginning Monday, March 16, The First will operate by drive-thru only. The lobby will be available by appointment only. Customers will still be able to access all services available within our online and mobile banking platforms as well as our Phonefirst option. Branch offices will be available to answer your calls during normal banking hours. Visit fnbn.com for your local branch contact information.


Sandy Ridge Flea Market cancelled
Due to the Coronavirus concerns the Sandy Ridge Church Flea Market that was scheduled for March 21st will be postponed until further notice.


New Hope Historical Society moves lecture series
The New Hope Historical is moving its Speaker Series (usually held each Monday in April) moving to Mondays in September. The Dee Rosenwald Memorial Coach Tour - (originally set for May 13) new date will move to Sept. 16.


Allentown Art Museum galleries closed
The Allentown Art Museum will be closed to the public from March 14 to March 31. During this time the galleries are closed and all programming and events are cancelled. Information about the museum’s annual fundraising Gala, planned for April 4, will be communicated in the coming weeks.


COVID-19 Update at Lenape Valley Foundation
Lenape Valley Foundation (LVF) is continuing to provide services while taking an abundance of precaution to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Effective immediately, Lenape Valley Foundation is postponing any community events & meetings that are scheduled to take place at our facilities. This is in effect until further notice.
 

McCarter suspends all theater performances through March 31
McCarter Theatre Center has announced the suspension of all performances, classes, and events through March 31, effective immediately, including the production run of Sleuth, Miloš, The Hot Sardines, and The Peking Acrobats. McCarter’s Patron Services team will be in touch with ticket holders in the next several days to discuss their options, including transferring a ticket to a donation to support McCarter during these uncertain times. McCarter will continue to pay its artists and staff during this crisis, and donations will help meet financial obligations. If a child is enrolled in an After School class, a member of our Education team will reach out to discuss your options.
 

Airmid offers online classes free for everyone
Airmid Wellness and Counseling Center in Warminster is hosting online classes, open to all, while the studio is closed due to the threat of COVID-19. Classes will be streamed live, and everyone is invited to view and participate in classes at no cost, online from their homes, via computer, tablet or smartphone. To do so, download and install the free GoToMeeting application at global.gotomeeting.com/install/529179333. More than 20 classes will be offered, including Gentle, Restorative and Vinyassa Yoga, Chair Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation. Online visitors can learn about TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) and there’s also a Kids Fun Yoga class that parents can also participate in. For class schedules and information, visit Airmid Wellness online.
 

Glencairn Museum closing, canceling events through April 6
Glencairn Museum administration has closed the museum and is canceling all public events through April 6, in accordance with Governor Wolf’s recommendation in response to COVID-19. The museum said it knows of no presumed or confirmed cases of the virus among its staff or visitors at this time, but is doing this in an abundance of caution. Canceled events include: all sessions of the Pysanky Ukrainian Easter Eggs workshops; March 22 Elizabeth Pitcairn violin concert; all daily guided tours through April 5; access to self-guided exhibition “Sacred Adornment: Jewelry as Belief in Ancient Egypt,” which runs through Nov. 1; and the March 14 Members-Only Coffee, which will be rescheduled. At this time, Glencairn plans to reopen Tuesday, April 7, with its usual hours and programs. If that changes, the museum will provide updates on its website and social media pages. The public can also contact Visitor Services at 267-502-2990 or info@GlencairnMuseum.org.
 

Philadelphia Sketch Club postpones gala
The Philadelphia Sketch Club's 159th Gala, scheduled for March 28, has been canceled. It will be rescheduled when the risks associated with coronavirus have lessened. The club said it will provide “ample notice” of the event. Contact the office for a ticket refund, or to request tickets be held for the rescheduled event. For information, contact 215-545-9298 or info@sketchclub.org.

Newtown Business Association cancels events
Out of an abundance of caution for public health and to help mitigate any potential for the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, Newtown Business Association has canceled a number of upcoming events: March Emerging Leaders Happy Hour - March 18; March NBA Monthly Breakfast - March 26; April Business Card Exchange - April 1; and NBA’s annual Easter Egg Hunt - April 4. NBA will continue to monitor information from local and federal officials regarding the COVID-19 virus as it considers the status of other events planned for the remainder of the year.
 
The number one priority of the Newtown Business Association now is to protect the health and safety of our members and members of the community. 
 

ArtsQuest closes facilities for a least two weeks
Following the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations that organizations postpone in-person events and gatherings consisting of 50 people or more, ArtsQuest is closing the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks and the Banana Factory to the public effective noon, March 16 through at least March 31. All programming at the buildings, including cinema screenings and comedy shows at the ArtsQuest Center and classes at the Banana Factory, have been suspended. ArtsQuest will contact students directly in regard to information on makeup dates and rescheduled classes. ArtsQuest previously announced that it had postponed all ArtsQuest Center Musikfest Café concerts through March 31. Patrons should hold on to their tickets, which will be honored at the rescheduled dates. The City of Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority’s Visitor Center at SteelStacks and Hoover Mason Trestle at SteelStacks are also closed through at least March 31. For the latest updates, visit www.artsquest.org. Send questions to info@artsquest.org.


ArtWorks Trenton closing through March 27
In keeping with the City of Trenton's recently announced measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the community by closing recreation and cultural facilities through March 27, Artworks will also close its gallery space to the public through March 27. ArtWorks will post virtual tours of both the “Art Educators” and “Mercer County YAM” exhibits to provide the opportunity to see these shows of art made by Mercer County students and teachers, even if they cannot be visited in person. ArtWorks will post updates as circumstances evolve.


Pines Dinner Theatre suspends performances
Pines Dinner Theatre in Allentown has decided to voluntarily suspend performances due to the COVID-19 health crisis. “While we always say ‘the show must go on,’ in the interest of being part of the solution, we have decided to voluntarily suspend performances through March 27,” the theater said. Additionally, its box-office will be closed to walk-in purchases during this time. Over the next few days, box-office staff will reach out to those who have tickets for an affected performance to assist with rescheduling reservations to a future date. The box office remains open for online and phone purchases of tickets and gift certificates for upcoming productions and performances.
 

Hunterdon County Library System shuts buildings, remains open online
In light of the current public health crisis, the Hunterdon County Library System (HCLS) is taking steps to reduce opportunities for exposure to COVID-19. The Hunterdon County Library System will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 until at least April 1. Late fines will not be charged during this time. For those practicing CDC recommended social distancing, look to the library for the following services: Remote Reference: 908-788-1434 or 908-730-6135, or reference@hclibrary.us with questions; Digital Lending via hclibrary.overdrive.com/; Digital Magazines: via hunterdoncountynj.rbdigital.com/; Databases via hclibrary.us/eresources/eresources.htm;Get a library card via hclibrary.us/policies/librarycard.htm to get a temporary barcode for access to borrow ebooks and eaudio from Overdrive/Libby. Flemington, Milford, and Lambertville residents: Through April 30, HCL will offer an e-borrowing card to enable you to take advantage of eHCL Digital Library. Check hclibrary.us for information. Check the library’s Facebook and webpage for updates and special at-home projects.


Trinity Health implements visitor restrictions at St. Mary
Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic Hospitals in Pennsylvania implemented enhanced visitor restrictions on March 14. The affected hospitals include St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne.

The enhanced visitor restrictions include no inpatient visitors. Clinically approved exceptions may be made to visit end-of-life or maternity patients. All applicable visitors must report to the main entrance of the hospital for screening. Once a visitor is approved, he or she will receive a visitor badge, which must be worn during the duration of the visit.


St. Luke’s launches coronavirus hotline
St. Luke’s University Health Network has launched a coronavirus telephone and email hotline to respond to inquiries from patients and the public: 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537), option 7, or coronavirus@sluhn.org.

The 24/7 hotline is led by St. Luke’s nursing staff who can provide information and guidance based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The hotline is not a substitute for the advice of a physician or, when necessary, medical attention.


Cairn University cancels concerts
Cairn University in Langhorne has canceled the following musical performances: “Music For The Cathedral And The Heart: Chorale Spring Concert,” scheduled for Sunday, March 22, at 1867 Sanctuary in Ewing Township, N.J.; Wind Ensemble Concert: “Stories,” scheduled for Friday, March 27, in Chatlos Chapel; “An Evening of Vocal Jazz and New Compositions,” scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, in Holmes Recital Hall; “The Concert of Winners: Symphony Orchestra Concert,” scheduled for Sunday, April 5, in Chatlos Chapel; and “Jazz Studies Program Recital,” scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, in Chatlos Chapel.


Central Bucks West High School production of "Les Misérables" on hold
The Central Bucks West High School production of “Les Misérables,” scheduled to begin Friday, March 27, has been placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Silverman Gallery postpones exhibition
The scheduled exhibition for Joseph Barrett and Mitch Michener at the Silverman Gallery in Buckingham Green is up and ready and will be open to the public as soon as feasible. Opening receptions planned for March 21 and 22 will be moved into April. The staff and artists of the Silverman Gallery want to thank the community for its patronage and support. Visit silvermangallery.com for information.


Tohickon Creek whitewater release canceled
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) semi-annual Tohickon Creek whitewater release, scheduled for March 21 – 22, has been canceled.

Amid concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19, DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced that all public programs, events and trainings in state parks and forests were canceled for the remainder of March and the month of April. In consultation with the Governor’s Office and Pennsylvania Department of Health, DCNR will continue to evaluate visitor health and safety as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and will post updates on facilities on the DCNR website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.


St. Mary cancels classes, events; wellness center closed
Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, St. Mary Medical Center has canceled all previously scheduled events and classes. Events and classes will reconvene at a later date. In addition, the St. Mary Wellness Center will be temporarily closed to the public. The Wellness Center will reopen at a later date. Individuals who are registered for an event or class will be contacted to reschedule.

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