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Local coronavirus briefing - March 30, 2020

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PA expands, extends stay-at-home order; all schools closed until further notice
Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today revised their “Stay at Home” orders to include Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill counties, bringing the state total to 26 counties under a stay-at-home order. This order takes effect at 8 p.m., Monday, March 30, and will continue until April 30. The order now includes Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties. All stay-at-home orders are now extended through April 30. All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice. Non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect.
 
 
PA Department of Health says 693 new cases of COVID-19 brings statewide total to 4,087
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed that there are 693 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 4,087 in 59 counties. The department also reported 11 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 49. Cases per county include: Bucks, 246 cases and four deaths; Chester, 146 cases; Delaware, 303 cases and four deaths; Lehigh, 231 cases and three deaths; Montgomery, 540 cases and five deaths; Northampton, 184 cases and five deaths; Philadelphia, 1,007 cases and seven deaths. All people with confirmed cases are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. “The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.” There are 33,777 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows: less than 1% are age 0-4; less than 1% are age 5-12; 1% are age 13-18; 10% are age 19-24; 41% are age 25-49; 28% are age 50-64; and 19% are age 65 or older. Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date.
 
 
Hunterdon Freeholders call special meeting to address COVID-19 issues
Hunterdon County’s Freeholder Board has called a special meeting for March 31, to address the need to support the county’s municipalities, emergency responders and medical providers and economic concerns brought about by Gov. Phil Murphy’s orders closing nonessential businesses. Freeholder Board Director Shaun C. Van Doren said, “The Freeholders need to consider allocating funds for the County’s COVID-19 virus emergency response and take some actions to support our municipalities and local businesses. We believe we must take some immediate actions that cannot wait for the regularly scheduled April 7th meeting.” The meeting will be held by teleconference at 5:30 p.m. March 31, to adhere to the state’s requirement to not hold in-person meetings and observe social distancing requirements. Interested parties can listen to the meeting by calling 720-399-1558 or 877-658-5107 with the Passcode: 403752. The public will have the opportunity to comment following consideration of agenda items. Key agenda items include resolutions: directing all Hunterdon County Department Heads to identify potential reductions in discretionary spending, authorizing a temporary appropriation for the COVID-19 emergency response, and authorizing an amendment to the Hunterdon County Economic Development Grant Program to expand the program to assist municipalities and local business associations. There will be no one on site at the Freeholder meeting room in the Administration Building in Flemington.
 

Lambertville artist offers virtual painting projects
Paint.Team wants to help the community access the healing power of art. Creating visual art for even just a short amount of time, no matter your skill level, reduces cortisol levels – a stress hormone. All of the projects are free, they have no social barriers, and you can access them from your own living room. Lambertville, N.J., artist Kelly Sullivan has put up multiple projects on her Paint.Team platform that are available to anyone. You can paint anonymously, or sign in to follow your projects. Paint on any of these open art pieces for five or 10 minutes and see if you can feel your cortisol levels drop. Share this link with friends and family and paint together virtually. Visit https://paint.team/
 

Elmwood Park Zoo’s Giraffeathon livestream fundraiser offers virtual giraffe feedings
Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown hosts a new fundraiser aimed at reducing the negative impact that the zoo's closure has had on its operation. GIRAFFEATHON will feature Elmwood Park Zoo staff collecting small donations online and over the phone that will be turned into individual giraffe feedings during the live stream. Viewers can purchase virtual giraffe feedings or donate higher amounts to support the zoo.
The zoo estimates it is losing over $18,000 a day in revenue due to its temporary closure. Staff layoffs and a freeze on all but essential spending has only slowed the bleeding. If its gates continue to remain closed through the month of April, the zoo projects a total loss of nearly a million dollars. Hosted by Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo's executive director and CEO, GIRAFFEATHON will also feature the zoo's educators, keepers and vet staff providing viewers with fun facts, and demonstrations of training sessions that help keep the zoo's three male giraffes happy and healthy. GIRAFFEATHON is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, April 3. Details on how to watch the live stream and donate will be available on www.giraffeathon.com.
 

Special Equestrians closed but still connected
Special Equestrians (SE), a therapeutic horseback riding center for children and adults with disabilities in Warrington, has responded to state and local officials’ call to shut down nonessential businesses due to the COVID 19 crisis, and has cancelled lessons and group activities, but remains in operation to care for its herd of 12 therapy horses until further notice. SE’s instructors and program staff have created “Rider Recess,” a series of online activities to keep their majority school-aged participants engaged. Rider Recess features fun, educational activities including puzzles, games and videos of staff reading horse-themed children’s books. To access Rider Recess go to facebook.com/specialequestrianspa/.
 

Old Barracks Museum launches new distance learning aide
The Old Barracks Museum in Trenton is bringing history online. Due to the closures of schools and other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, thousands of students are going to miss their scheduled field trips to the Old Barracks Museum this spring. While visiting the historical landmark to learn about New Jersey’s pivotal role in the American Revolution is an immersive, hands-on experience that can’t be replicated online, the museum is eager to connect with students to allow them the opportunity to connect with history. Ask the Barracks allows students, parents, and teachers to email questions about the American Revolution, the Battle of Trenton, diseases in the 18th century such as smallpox, and New Jersey to askthebarracks@barracks.org. Selected questions will be answered via videos that will be posted on www.barracks.org/askthebarracks and facebook.com/oldbarracksmuseum. The program is open to students around the world, not just students whose field trips are being cancelled. The Old Barracks was one of George Washington’s mandated smallpox inoculation hospitals in the American Revolution and helped control that very deadly and contagious disease.
 

Warren introduces anti-hoarding legislation during pandemic
State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, has introduced legislation that would discourage hoarding by limiting the return of grocery items during the current state of emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Warren, hoarders could buy up products while “hedging their investment” by returning unsold items to the store for a refund or credit if the shortage abates or when the crisis ends. Warren’s bill seeks to protect residents from shortages of basic necessities and prevent the return and possible resale of items that could carry the COVID-19 virus on their surfaces. The legislation would give grocery stores the sole discretion of accepting returned items that may have been unsafe or otherwise defective at the time of sale. Those items would not be eligible for resale. In addition to his legislation, Warren is co-sponsoring other business-related COVID-19 legislation, including Philadelphia Rep. Mike Driscoll’s resolution urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to reimburse insurance companies for payments on business interruption claims resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
 
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater launches free streaming series
Today, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates the anniversary of its first performance with the launch of #AileyAllAccess – a free online streaming series featuring performances of full length works from the repertory, Ailey Extension dance classes, and original short films created by the Ailey dancers, and other especially created content. For the premiere of #AileyAllAccess, the world is invited to experience the magic of Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” The 7 p.m. screening of “Revelations,” a 2015 film that is a jewel from the “Live from Lincoln Center” treasure trove, will be introduced by Artistic Director Robert Battle and include commentary from some of the dancers. Afterward, Ailey encourages viewers to join in the dance by sharing videos with words or moves that express #MyRevelations. After “Revelations,” which will be available until 7 p.m. April 2, a variety of digital content will be accessible by following Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Ailey Extension on Facebook and Instagram, Ailey II on Facebook, and The Ailey School on Instagram, as well as visiting Ailey All Access and alvinailey.org regularly for updates. Now in its seventh decade, the Ailey organization looks forward to serving all people with Ailey All Access and a full schedule of offerings as soon as possible.
 
 
Chapman Gallery remains closed until state okay opening
In a letter to customers, Chapman Gallery in Doylestown said it would remain closed until it receives notification from Pennsylvania that it can reopen. “At Chapman Gallery the safety of our artists, customers and community is of the utmost importance,” the letter said. “We recognize the role we all play is important to how our community responds to this current challenge. As soon as we reopen for normal business hours we will notify our artists and customers through Facebook, our website and by email. We look forward to seeing you and acknowledge your continued support at this difficult time. We are appreciative of your loyalty to Chapman Gallery and thankful for your understanding as we work together to fight the spread of COV-19.”
 

USDA approves statewide plan for disaster food distribution
Following a statewide advocacy effort from the state’s entire federal congressional delegation, along with Gov. Tom Wolf and state food bank and agricultural industry advocates, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding has received federal approval for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to operate a Disaster Household Distribution program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave its approval on March 27 to implement the distribution program through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), giving food banks increased flexibility to serve Pennsylvanians adversely affected as a result of statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts and enhancing public health and safety for workers, volunteers and emergency food recipients. TEFAP is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. USDA provides each state with 100% American-grown commodities --- known as USDA Foods --- and administrative funds to help defray costs related to TEFAP storage, transportation, and distribution. Pennsylvania’s Disaster Household Distribution program will temporarily waive the need for income eligibility paperwork to be filled out in order to receive USDA Foods delivered to the state as part of the TEFAP Trade Mitigation and TEFAP Bonus programs. The waiver is in place to ensure that the charitable food network can efficiently distribute a variety of nutritious foods, based on availability, to those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of non-life-sustaining businesses.
 

Stay-at-home local residents seek volunteer opportunities
The Herald has received a request for listing volunteer opportunities for people that are homebound. Some people are calling seniors or to find out who’s hungry or who has a sewing machine that can be used to make masks or gowns or other things you can do at home. If you have a need for volunteers, contact herald@buckscountyherald.com to give the details and the need will be listed on the Local Coronavirus Briefing.
 
 
Gov. Wolf committed to fair and equitable treatment of all Pennsylvanians during COVID-19 Pandemic
Gov. Tom Wolf today released a statement on his commitment to ensuring all Pennsylvanians receive fair and equitable access to lifesaving health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Pennsylvania’s standards of care – in times of crisis and not – are based on an ethical allocation framework, meaning care is provided equitably across all populations without regard to patient age, race, gender, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status. We follow the provisions set forth in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) and advise any Pennsylvanian who feels they or a loved one have been discriminated against in any way to contact the PHRC,” he said.
 
 
Department of Corrections quarantines state prison system to fight COVID-19, protect inmates and staff
Department of Corrections Sec. John Wetzel today announced that at 10 p.m. on March 29, he implemented a statewide inmate quarantine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 29, DOC officials announced that its first COVID-19 case was confirmed for one inmate at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Phoenix, Montgomery County. Wetzel said that inmates will be fed in their cells, and they will be afforded out-of-cell time for video visits, phone calls, access to the law library, as well as being provided with in-cell programming. All inmate movement will be controlled to conform to social distancing recommendations. 
 
 
Lambertville Municipal Utilities Authority slates telephonic public meeting
In compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act, the authority’s board of will conduct their regularly scheduled Board Meeting at 6 p.m. on April 7 telephonically. Members of the public may dial in to the meeting at 6 p.m. by calling 978-990-5000 and then dial access code: 381264. The agenda shall be posted on Lambertville MUA’s website at lambertvillemua.com and the City of Lambertville’s website at lambertvillenj.org.
 
 
KidsPeace’s TeenCentral.com a resource for youth in COVID-19 crisis
Fears about fitting in at a new school; concern over parents apparently heading for divorce; questions and doubts about relationships and emerging sexuality. Since 1998, these issues and many more have been raised with the team at TeenCentral.com, the web-based therapeutic support service powered by KidsPeace. Now, with the onset of the coronavirus crisis, KidsPeace is devoting more resources to TeenCentral.com to provide support for young people as they deal with the unprecedented pressure and stress caused by the global pandemic. TeenCentral.com offers teens and young people a “safe space” to investigate and ask questions about mental health and coping strategies. Visitors to the site can submit a question or describe an issue in their lives and get a “handcrafted” answer from a trained clinical professional posted to the site within 24 hours. All stories and therapeutic responses submitted over the past several months can be viewed on the site. TeenCentral.com also offers information on a range of subjects – from anxiety to depression to relationships to spirituality – and a collection of self-help resources and tools to help visitors practice good mental and emotional health. The site is free, anonymous and confidential.

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