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Local coronavirus briefing - March 28, 2020

Department of Health update on COVID-19, 533 new cases
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of noon, March 28, that there are 533 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 2,751 in 56 counties. The department also reported 12 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 34. Bucks County has 152 cases; Chester 116; Lehigh 109 and three deaths; Montgomery 411 and five deaths; Delaware 226 and four deaths; Northampton 94 and four deaths; Philadelphia 709 and five deaths. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Our notable increase in cases over the past week indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: 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 to stay home.”

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 25-49, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide at least through April 6. Currently 19 counties are under stay-at-home orders.

Department of Corrections provides daily COVID-19 information
Beginning today, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) will share basic information and statistics about the status of COVID-19 in the state prison system by making it available on the DOC’s website. To date, no inmate has tested positive for novel coronavirus. “I believe that it is vitally important to share some basic information to quell any rumors circulating out in the community,” Sec. John Wetzel said. “As of today, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases among our inmates.” Wetzel said that the DOC is fully compliant with CDC testing guidelines and that inmates have access to robust medical staff and operations at both the local and DOC Central Office levels, including a former chief of clinical services who specializes in public health returning to serve as a special advisor to DOC leaders.

Mercer County, N.J., counts 168 positive cases
The New Jersey Department of Health today announced that there are now 168 positive cases of COVID-19 in Mercer County. Mercer County releases no identifiers other than the number of cases, and does not tally by municipality. Contact tracing, including information gathering, is underway on the new cases and continuing on the remaining ones where needed.
Stover Mill Gallery cancels April show
The Tinicum Civic Association’s Stover Mill Gallery will remain closed and not open as scheduled in April. April’s exhibition of the works of Shirley Mersky and Denise Callanan-Kline has been postponed to a later date. Future plans will be announced accordingly. Check periodically for updates.

Delaware Valley Food Pantry to close temporarily
Because it has been open to the needy for a couple weeks since the coronavirus appeared, the pantry is fearful that the virus may have been brought into the pantry, and to ensure that none of the volunteers has become infected, the Delaware Valley Food Pantry will be shutting down for a two- week period beginning after it closes next Saturday, April 7. The pantry will be open on that day from 10 a.m. to noon as usual and giving out Giant Market gift cards for modest amounts to each of its clients to help them get through this period without pantry food. During this off-time the staff will be sanitizing the entire pantry and evaluating the health of our staff.

Two important things to note: The pantry use cash donations to help pay for the gift certificates; send checks to DVFP, P.O. Box 705, Lambertville, NJ 08530. Please do not bring food donations to the pantry until it reopens, around April 22.

NJEDA announces initiatives to support businesses
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved a suite of new programs designed to support businesses and workers facing economic hardship due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The package of initiatives includes a grant program for small businesses, a zero-interest loan program for mid-size companies, support for private-sector lenders and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), funding for entrepreneurs, and a variety of resources providing technical support and marketplace information. Taken together, they will provide more than $75 million of State and private financial support, with the opportunity to grow to more than $100 million if additional philanthropic, State, and federal resources become available. The initiatives will support between 3,000 and 5,000 small and midsize enterprises and are meant to complement recently announced federal economic recovery initiatives.

Fitzpatrick and Moulton Introduce the Save Organizations that Serve America Act to Include Charitable Nonprofits in Economic Relief
Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) and Seth Moulton (MA-6) introduced the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act. The legislation would provide emergency funding for nonprofits and create a universal charitable deduction. The representatives will also advocate for nonprofits of any size to qualify for newly created Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. The bipartisan legislation has the support of leading American nonprofits from across the country, who added their voices to call for the legislation’s swift passage. The 12 million people working for America’s charities are on the frontlines of the coronavirus response: they are the backbone of the food banks, shelters, domestic violence services, houses of worship, early care and education centers, after-school facilities, and more that are being called on to feed, house and care for people whose lives have been disrupted by closures, job loss and sickness.