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Local coronavirus briefing - March 18, 2020

Department of Health says 37 new cases of COVID-19 bring statewide total to 133
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that as noon March 18, that there are 37 additional positive cases of COVID-19 reported, bringing the statewide total to 133. County-specific information and a statewide map are available at All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine urged Pennsylvanians to “stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is stay home.” Statewide, there are 133 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 1,187 patients who have tested negative. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending. Of the 113 cases, nine are in Bucks County and 42 are in neighboring Montgomery County.

State Police issues statement on Pennsylvania Instant Check System for Firearm Purchases
Major Gary Dance, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Records and Identification, released the following statement today on the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS). “Technology challenges and a surge in requests resulted in PICS twice going offline on March 17. An isolated server issue was responsible for the morning outage from 8 to 11:30 a.m. The second outage happened between 5 and 8:40 p.m., due to a backlog of requests. “Despite the downtime, PICS completed 4,342 transactions on March 17, compared to 1,359 transactions on the corresponding Tuesday in March 2019. Transactions include background checks for purchases, transfers, evidence returns, and license to carry applications. “The Pennsylvania State Police is working with its vendor to increase processing power to avoid future backlogs and will adjust staffing as needed to meet demand. Rumors circulating on social media that PICS has been shut down as part of the commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic are false. PICS is, and will remain, operational.

Hotline set up to help patients obtain medications during outbreak
PARD, an association of community pharmacies headquartered in Philadelphia, has initiated a hotline to help patients who are having problems obtaining their medications during these trying times. The hotline will be supported by pharmacists that have a list of all PARD stores that are located in Southeastern and Northeastern Pennsylvania. This team will work to have patients connected with a local pharmacy that could supply their medications either at their store or through delivery. The hotline will be available Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. through Tuesday, March 31. Call 215-934-9412.

Lulu’s Rescue closes thrift store during COVID-19 threat
Lulu’s Rescue has voluntarily closed its thrift store until given the all-clear and suspended all indoor adoption events for the foreseeable future. Outdoor events will continue as long as there is sufficient space. Lulu’s Rescue will continue to post information on its Facebook page to keep supporters up to date and informed.

Rita’s Italian Ice postpones first day of Spring Giveaway
In light of the increasing concerns around COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the precautionary risks associated with large gatherings, Rita’s is postponing its annual free Italian Ice giveaway to celebrate first day of spring. Right now, Rita’s are still open. Rita’s is committed to providing a clean and safe environment for guests and team members. Guests are encouraged to check with their local Rita's for daily operating hours, as it may vary by community.

Bucks Book Discussion Group cancels April meeting, resumes in May
The Bucks County Community College Book Discussion Group has cancelled its Thursday, April 9 meeting amid the suspension of on-campus events to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, the public is invited when the group reconvenes May 14, with “The Topeka School,” for its free, informal monthly meetings. The gatherings take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month during the academic year at the college’s Newtown campus. For more information, contact Michael Hennessey at 215-968-8164 or

Comcast offers free Wi-Fi, unlimited data and more during crisis
On the heels of offering new, low-income Internet Essentials customers two months of free internet and raising the speed of that program’s service to 25/3 Mbps, Comcast has announced additional steps to help ensure people stay connected to the internet as more schools suspend classes and companies encourage employees to work from home due to the Coronavirus. “During this extraordinary time, it is vital that as many Americans as possible stay connected to the internet – for education, work, and personal health reasons,” said Dave Watson, Comcast Cable Chief Executive Officer. “Our employees also live and work in virtually every community we serve, and we all share the same belief that it’s our Company’s responsibility to step up and help out.” Comcast is taking steps to implement the following new policies for the next 60 days, and other important initiatives: Xfinity WiFi Free For Everyone; Pausing Our Data Plan; No Disconnects or Late Fees; Internet Essentials Free to New Customers; News, Information and Educational Content on X1 and Flex; 24x7 Network Monitoring. For information and updates from Comcast related to Coronavirus, visit:

Washington Crossing Inn offers discounted takeout, free local delivery
The Washington Crossing Inn is currently offering a discounted takeout menu with discounted beer and wine. It also is offering free delivery to the local area. Call 215-493-3634 or visit for details.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht Self-Quarantines with Family
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David N. Wecht released the following information related to COVID-19. Upon returning from overseas studies, one of Justice Wecht’s children tested presumptively positive for COVID-19, the result of which was first reported to him late Mon., March 16. As a result, based on medical advice, the Justice has self-quarantined along with his family.

Newtown Township closed until April 1
Newtown Township will be following the County’s lead and activating an essential services only operation for the next two weeks due to the CoronaVirus (COVID-19). This mandate will be effective until 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 1. All non-essential board, committee, and homeowner association meetings have been cancelled. All Parks & Recreation programs have been suspended until April 1. Township parks will remain open. All facilities in the parks will remain closed.