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Local coronavirus briefing - March 25, 2020

PA Department of Health says 276 new positive cases of COVID-19 brings statewide total to 1,127
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that there are 276 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,127 in 44 counties, including 86 in Bucks County. The department also reported four new deaths, bringing the statewide death total to 11. “Our notable increase in cases over the past few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.” Statewide, there are 1,127 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 11,193 patients who have tested negative, and 11 total deaths. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending. All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide at least through April 6.
State Police release non-life-sustaining businesses enforcement totals

The Pennsylvania State Police today released data on actions taken yesterday, March 24, against non-life-sustaining businesses that failed to comply with Governor Tom Wolf’s order closing their physical locations. Enforcement began on Monday, March 23 There have been a total of 44 actions taken, including a total of four by the barracks that polices Bucks, Lehigh and Northampton counties.

PA Agriculture Secretary says food and supply hoarding hurting food banks
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding has urged Pennsylvanians to return to their normal shopping habits to allow the supply chain to recover and allow enough essentials for all. Over-purchasing impacts the food system, particularly the charitable food system that’s currently working overtime to meet increased demands as thousands of Pennsylvanians find themselves out of work as a result of necessary COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Bucks County COVID-19 Recovery Fund awards first grants to local nonprofits
Bucks County COVID-19 Recovery Fund, established in mid-March by United Way of Bucks County with support from Penn Community Bank, is announcing its first community grants. Bucks County Opportunity Council, Bucks County Housing Group, Penndel Mental Health Center, and Advocates for Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) have each been awarded $5,000 to help people in Bucks County experiencing a crisis due to COVID-19. United Way of Bucks County Member Agencies will continue to submit grant applications on a rolling basis. Applications are reviewed quickly by a panel of business and nonprofit leaders. Payments are released immediately to ensure that people who experience a financial crisis due to COVID-19 get help quickly. Bucks County COVID-19 Recovery Fund is supported by United Way of Bucks County, Penn Community Bank, PECO, Dow, Foundations Community Partnership, Bucks County Foundation, and many individual donors in Bucks County. Additional funds are badly needed. Donations can be made at or by mailing a check to United Way of Bucks County, 413 Hood Boulevard, Fairless Hills, PA 19030 with COVID recovery in the subject line.

Police warn of online threats by extremists to deliberately infect religious, ethnic groups
Lower Makefield Township Police Chief Kenneth Coluzzi today posted a letter on CrimeWatch regarding COVID-19 precautions for religious groups. He said he wanted to advise the faith-based community of information police recently received regarding online discussions among racially motivated extremist groups. “There is information involving the deliberate spreading of novel coronavirus, COVID-19 to faith-based and minority groups. Police are not aware of any specific or credible threats to any ethnic or faith-based community in Lower Makefield. The online discussions among the extremist are targeted towards Jewish and Asian-American communities, mosques and synagogues. The discussions speak of spreading COVID-19 by leaving saliva on door handles, elevator buttons, and spraying saliva from water bottles. With the upcoming Jewish Passover holiday beginning April 8th, a special concern exists. There could be an opportunity for extremist groups to tamper with food or dishware before a meal is served. All should be vigilant and aware to potentially identify any food or items that may display signs of tampering. We feel this information is extremely important to share to raise awareness in these uncertain times. Should our department learn of a specific or credible threat, we will notify the organization within the community immediately. If any group learns of a potential threat or observes suspicious behavior and incidents to call police immediately. Township patrols have been instructed to give additional attention to places of worship and public meeting areas.

McCarter Theatre Center cancels all performances, events through June 30
In response to the continuing situation regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), McCarter Theatre Center has announced the cancelation of all performances and events through June 30, effective immediately. The full production run of Nathan Alan Davis’ The Refuge Plays, all scheduled Presented Series events for the rest of the season including the Jazz in June Festival, and 2020 Gala featuring Michael Feinstein are affected. McCarter administrative offices and production shops will remain closed for the time being and the remaining staff will continue to work remotely. McCarter Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg said, “We do not take this decision lightly and think it is in the best interest of the many different communities and constituencies that we serve. We ask that you consider making a donation to McCarter to help ensure that we are ready to re-open our doors when the time comes and welcome everyone back for the magic and fellowship of live performance. In the coming days, we hope that you will join us online as we celebrate art and artists, keep an open dialogue with our community, and inspire you to embark on your own creative projects as we weather this storm together.”

Central Bucks Regional police officer conducting virtual senior well-being checks
Officer Jonathan Hannahoe is calling over 200 seniors in the area to do virtual well-being checks during the CoVID-19 pandemic. He is providing resources/referrals, making sure they are okay during the “Stay at Home” order, and providing information of what to do should they have symptoms of the virus. CBRPD does not have a comprehensive list of seniors; if anyone would like the department to check on someone, email them at

Penn Foundation accepting face masks and other supplies
Penn Foundation is accepting donations of face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the organization has an adequate amount in case of a potential shortage. The types of PPE that Penn Foundation is specifically interested in are: N95 masks, face shields, vinyl gloves, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes. Additionally, Penn Foundation is also asking the community to donate homemade face masks.

A simple but effective mask can be made using things most individuals have at home. The factors that make a mask effective are not just what it can block but also how breathable it is and comfortable to wear. Good fabrics to use include cotton, denim, duck cloth, canvas, twill, silk or other tight woven fabric. You will find tutorials all over the Internet on making masks, but one recommended by Byrne’s Sewing Connection in Doylestown is Jenny Doan’s mask tutorial on YouTube. Masks can be dropped off in Sellersville at Penn Foundation’s Recovery Center, 807 Lawn Ave., Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go in the front door and leave donations in the vestibule of the building.

Hunterdon Medical Center receives donation of overnight go bags from Pillowpak
Hunterdon Medical Center received 30 overnight go bags from Pillowpak of Clinton, N.J. The bags will be given to members of the hospital’s clinical staff who may need to have an overnight “go” bag ready if they are required to stay overnight. Pillowpak is a machine-washable, ultra-light travel bag created to carry a pillow but also incorporates purposefully designed compartments for change of clothes, toiletries, a dedicated pocket for cell phone, earbuds and charger, a special keepsake pocket, and a uniquely accessed pillow pocket to help keep the pillow clean, dry and allergen-free. Pillowpak can be used as a backpack, sling bag or carried like a traditional duffel bag.

St. Luke’s Command Center manages network’s emergency response to COVID-19
St. Luke’s University Health Network is managing the Networks’ preparations and response to COVID-19 through its Incident Command Center in Bethlehem. The Incident Command Center has been organized according to the structure and principals established by U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Incident Command Center is running 24/7, staffed by team of experts including those who have undergone special emergency preparedness training at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness in Alabama. Such training is part of St. Luke’s regular, continuous emergency preparation, which also includes extensive planning and regular drilling. Each of St. Luke’s hospital campuses has its own Incident Command Center that, when appropriate, seeks guidance and support from the Network’s Incident Command Center. Additionally, the Network’s Incident Command Center is working in coordination with local, state and federal government agencies as called for under FEMA’s Incident Command System.

Prallsville Mills postpones rummage sale
The Prallsville Mills Annual Rummage Sale has been postponed until Sept. 19 and 20. Donations will be collected Sept. 14 to 18.