The latest updates and information with Coronavirus (COV-19) in our area, our state, and our country. This information is subject to change:
THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA HAS ISSUED THE CLOSURE OF ALL NON-LIFE SUSTAINING BUSINESSES IN PENNSYLVANIA TO CLOSE THEIR PHYSICAL LOCATIONS EFFECTIVE NOW. FOR THE LIST OF LIFE ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES, PLEASE CLICK HERE. GOV. WOLF PLACED ALL OF
PENNSYLVANIA UNDER AN ORDER TO STAY AT HOME UNTIL MAY 8TH. GOVERNOR TOM WOLF HAS ASKED ALL PENNSYLVANIANS TO WEAR A MASK IF THEY HAVE TO GO OUT (SAVE THE MEDICAL MASKS FOR PROFESSIONALS, USE A HOMEMADE MASK).
Get the latest report from the Pennsylvania Department of Heath here.
Updated as of Friday, May 22nd at 8am:
- Twelve counties are moving from the red phase to the yellow phase of reopening today including Wyoming, Carbon and Susquehanna. That means large gatherings are still not allowed but some businesses can begin to reopen.
- Governor Wolf is expected to announce more counties that will move from red to yellow later today, some may even move from yellow to the green phase.
- The drive-through coronavirus testing site at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township will close next Friday. More than 2 thousand people have been tested there since it opened last month.
- You can now get mixed drinks to go when you pick up your take-out food, a first for the commonwealth. Governor Wolf signed the bill that temporarily allows restaurants, taverns and hotels with liquor licenses to sell prepared drinks and mixed cocktails for carryout until 11 at night. The drinks must be in a sealed container, can’t be any more than 64 ounces and must be transported in a vehicle’s trunk or away from the driver or passengers.
- One theme park Florida is looking to reopen soon. Universal Orlando outlined their plans for a phased reopening of its Florida theme parks on June 1, initially only for its own team members. Then two days for invited guests such as annual pass holders, before welcoming the public back on June 5. All guests will be required to wear face masks and go through temperature screenings to enter the parks. The park’s CityWalk, which features shops and restaurants partially reopened last week.
Updated as of Thursday, May 21st at 8am:
- The Pennsylvania House of Representatives attempted unsuccessfully yesterday to override Governor Wolf’s veto of a bill that would reopen barbers, hair stylists, animal groomers and several more businesses. It fell short by 21 votes. Had the House been successful in its override vote, the Senate also would have had to achieve support from two-thirds of the 50 senators for the measure to become law.
- Some new guidance was released yesterday for when Pennsylvania’s casinos begin to reopen. To maintain social distancing, the Gaming Control Board is requiring casinos to put markings on the floor to keep people apart in lines, disable certain slot machines, close poker rooms and install plexiglass dividers. And all patrons must wear masks and are discouraged from wearing hats. For now, casinos remain closed in the yellow phase of the state’s reopening plan.
- A summer tradition in Pennsylvania is being cancelled this year. The Keystone State Games and the PA Senior Games were scheduled to be held in Luzerne County in July and August. This would have been the third consecutive year the Keystone State Games would’ve been held in Luzerne County. They are hopeful that the games can go on in some fashion later this year.
- The total of coronavirus cases worldwide has hit a grim milestone…more than 5 million and more than 328 thousand people have died.
- Here in the US, there are more than 1 and a half million cases of coronavirus and more than 93 thousand people have died. Yesterday marked the highest one-day increase of cases worldwide since the outbreak began.
- Victoria’s Secret plans to permanently close about 250 stores in the U.S. and Canada this year. And plans are in place to close 50 Bath and Body works stores in the US.
- A step forwards towards Fall sports. The NCAA Division I Council voted yesterday to allow voluntary on-campus athletic activities in football and men’s and women’s basketball to resume beginning June 1st. Coaches cannot be there unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and the activities can’t be directed by a coach or reported back to a member of the coaching staff.
Updated as of Wednesday, May 20th at 8am:
- The real estate industry is back open for business. Governor Wolf gave the green light yesterday. Pennsylvania was the only state that considered real estate non-essential and shut it down during the pandemic. There are restrictions, business should be conducted virtually whenever possible and everyone at a property for sale must have a face covering.
- Nursing homes across the state, as well as here in our area have been hit hard by the coronavirus. The Allied Services Skilled Nursing Center in Scranton had 163 cases among residents making it the fourth highest in the state. Timber Ridge Health Care Center in Plains Township has the highest in Luzerne county with 101 resident cases.
- All 50 states are now open for some form of business, Connecticut is the last to reopen today.
- The death toll from coronavirus in the US is now nearly 92 thousand.
- Part of Disney Springs, the shopping and entertainment complex near Walt Disney World in Florida will reopen today. Visitors must undergo temperature checks before entering and the number of people allowed in will be limited. Employees and visitors will be required to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths at all times, except when sitting for a meal. Disney says this is the first phase of their comeback plan, they have been closed since March. No word yet on reopening dates for the parks.
Updated as of Tuesday, May 19th at 8am:
- The demand was so high for businesses seeking grants from Lackawanna County, the website crashed. County officials plan to give out 25 hundred-dollar grants to 100 businesses affected by the pandemic… The money will come from economic development funds. Any businesses owner who is interested in obtaining a grant should fax or email in their application since they will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- Some positive news for Luzerne County, the number of new coronavirus cases was just 6 yesterday bringing the new total to just over 25 hundred. Lackawanna county added 19 more positive cases for a total of just over 13 hundred.
- Lake Lehman School District announced they are planning to hold graduation in July if restrictions are lifted by then. If not, they will hold a virtual graduation.
- President Trump says he is taking the anti-malaria drug Hydroxychloroquin even though health experts say there is no evidence it can prevent the coronavirus. Trump said his doctor did not recommend the drug to him, but he requested it from the White House physician. He began taking the drug not long after two white house staffers tested positive for Covid-19.
- Automakers reopened dozens of plants across the United States yesterday for the first time in nearly two months. Thousands of workers returned to factories which now have new health and safety protocols that have already been implemented at plants in China and Europe.
- and reportedly are in talks over some type of deal to help boost Amazon’s apparel business. JC Penney filed for bankruptcy last week after 118 years in business. The company plans to close 200 stores this year and 50 more next year.
Updated as of Monday, May 18th at 8am:
- Pennsylvania now has more than 62 thousand confirmed cases of covid-19 with more than 44 hundred deaths.
- In Luzerne County there are more than 25 hundred cases with 127 deaths and in Lackawanna County, there are more than 13 hundred cases with 149 deaths.
- The nationwide death toll from coronavirus is expected to hit 90 thousand today, and 49 states in the US are beginning to loosen restrictions while encouraging social distancing and mask wearing. But some reports show cases are increasing in 8 states including Texas…that state reported its highest daily rate on Saturday, nearly 2 thousand new cases of coronavirus.
- Scenes from across the country this weekend show many Americans are tired of quarantining. People packing parks, beaches, bars and restaurants in many states and lining up in New York City outside bars for take-out beverages.
- The mayor of New York says the city’s beaches will not open for the Memorial Day weekend but other beaches in the state will along with beaches in New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut but restrictions will be in place.
- JC Penney has filed for bankruptcy. The 118 year-old company blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the need to file bankruptcy. Both J. Crew and Neiman Marcus have also filed for bankruptcy, and Nordstrom plans to shut 16 of its 116 stores.
- A little normalcy from the sports world over the weekend, NASCAR was back in action at Darlington and a PGA charity golf tournament yesterday raised millions for COVID-19 relief efforts. But no spectators were allowed at either event.
Updated as of Friday, May 15th at 8am:
- Governor Wolf is expected to make the announcement this afternoon which counties will move into the yellow phase. 13 counties in the western part of the state are moving into the yellow phase today, 24 moved into the yellow phase last week. The yellow phase means the stay at home order is lifted and some businesses can reopen.
- Some members of Luzerne County council proposed reopening the county based on zip code, excluding those with higher coronavirus case counts. State secretary of health Dr. Rachel Levine shot that idea down yesterday saying reopenings will continue at the county level.
- Wyoming County expects to hear today that they can move the yellow phase in the next round. That could mean businesses could begin to reopen next Friday. Residents held a second rally in front of the courthouse in Tunkhannock yesterday.
- Unemployment in the US continues to rise. About 3 million more Americans filed new unemployment claims last week. The increase pushes the eight-week total to more than 36 million Americans who have filed claims.
- The House is expected to vote today on a 3 trillion-dollar coronavirus package…it would include a second round of stimulus checks. The bill is expected to be rejected in the US senate.
- The governors of New Jersey and Delaware plan to open their beaches in time for Memorial Day weekend but with social distancing. In Delaware, there is a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for those from out of state and a ban on short-term housing rentals which effectively prohibits any non-resident who has not been in the state for at least two weeks from using the beaches.
- NASCAR will be back this weekend. It’s the first major US sport to return to action during the coronavirus pandemic. They’ll be racing at Darlington on Sunday. No fans will be allowed and there is no practicing or qualifying. Team rosters are limited and social distancing will be required.
Public Service Spaces
- COLTS buses in Lackawanna County will now be running on a Saturday schedule and waiving fares to help protect the drivers from touching.
- PA State Parks have closed all facilities, however trails remain open.
- Luzerne County Central Court (NOT the Courthouse) on Water Street asks only victims, defendants, witnesses and law enforcement inside the facility at this time.
- The Luzerne County Courthouse is under a modified schedule, including a single point of entry at the rear of the building. Juries have been cancelled for the rest of March, with attorneys and taxpayers encouraged to use online facilities. The sheriff’s dept. on the lower level will handle all public business on the following schedule:
- 9a-noon: Sheriff, prothonotary, gun permits and clerk of court filings.
- 1pm-3:30pm: Deeds, assessor’s office, wills and orphans court clerk
- 3:30pm-4:25pm: Probate appointments.
- PA American Water is restoring water to residents who have been shut-off on a temporary basis to ease health and safety concerns for customers.
- The PA Dept. of Corrections AND The Luzerne County Correctional Facility have placed a 14 day ban on any visitations of inmates.
- Tax Collection has temporarily been ceased at the Duryea Borough building. Residents are asked instead to mail taxes or place them in the dropbox.
- The Luzerne County Library System has announced a full closure until March 29th.
- Most, if not all, utility companies are working with residents to either keep utilities on or restore utilities that have already been shut off. Please contact your utility providers if you are in need of assistance.
- Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown has enacted a state of emergency to free up funding resources. City Hall, the DPW and fire Dept are all closed to the public, as well as the city-owned golf courses, parks and playgrounds.
- Municipal / Police Buildings are closed to the public in the following locations: Dallas Twp, Dupont, Duryea, Edwardsville, Exeter, Forty-Fort, Hanover Twp., Harvey’s Lake, Kingston Twp, Laflin, Larksville, Luzerne, Nanticoke, Pittston, Plymouth, Plymouth Twp., Swoyersville, Plains Twp., West Wyoming, Wilkes-Barre Twp.
- The Diocese of Scranton has announced a suspension of all public masses. Some churches will remain open for private worship. Funerals, Weddings and Baptisms can continue but can only be attended by immediate family only.
- In Wilkes-Barre, both the Cherry Blossom Festival, set for next month and the Fine Arts Fiesta, set for May will both be cancelled this year. Both are spring time traditions in the city.
- The Irem Shrine Circus, a spring-time tradition for decades is being postponed.
- Both The Scranton AND Pittston Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick have cancelled their annual dinners on Tuesday, March 17th. Both are awaiting a new date.
- The NEPA Bach Festival in Scranton has been cancelled.
- The Wyoming Valley Children’s Association has postponed their annual Gala, Walk-A-Thon and meeting. Events will be scheduled at a later date.
- The Ronald McDonald House of Scranton has postponed their annual Gourmet Gala March 22nd. A new date has been schedule for June 14th at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
- The Pittston Arts Council postponed their designer purse bingo from March 22nd to April 26th.
- Big Brother/Big Sisters of the Bridge have postponed all Bowl for Kids’ Sake Events. The event scheduled at Chacko’s will now be held June 13th.
- The SPCA of Luzerne County have postponed their annual Pet Expo at the Kingston Armory. A new date in October is pending.
- The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre has postponed performances of “The Wedding Singer”.
- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce has postponed “Pins for Nonprofits”, the 2020 Inaugural Diversity Forum, the ATHENA Panel Luncheon and the WB Connect Spotlight Event.
- The Luzerne County Historical Society: The Nathan Denison House, Swetland Homestead, Bishop Memorial Library and county Museum remain open at this time, but are only taking small groups.
- The Scranton Half Marathon and all correlating events has been postponed, and will provide updates as soon as possible.
- WVIA has postponed Pennsylvania Polka for March.
- In Pennsylvania, no school for at least two more weeks. Governor Wolf has ordered schools not to reopen until April 6th or possibly longer if necessary.
- The Diocese of Scranton will extend the closure of their schools until April 14th. The State Secretary of Education directed the state’s 29 intermediate units to help districts prepare “continuity of learning plans,” including procedures for students with disabilities and English language learners.
- The Dept. of Education said it will forego standardized testing for the remainder of the year. Trump also demanded that federal student loan interest be waived for the next 60 days, at least.
- In compliance with Gov. Wolf’s orders, all Pennsylvania K-12 schools – including all local public, private, Diocese and charter – have closed at this time for 10 business days.
- King’s College: In-person classes suspended until April 14, after Easter break. Courses continue online. Internships, clinicals or student-teaching assignments will continue as scheduled.
- Misericordia University: In-person classes suspended until April 14, after Easter break. Courses continue online.
- Luzerne County Community College: In-person classes are suspended. Online courses will continue. Classes will resume on March 19 as distance learning. College events have also been canceled. See luzerne.edu for information.
- Bloomsburg University has extended spring break until March 23rd, when classes will resume online. All University events have been postponed.
- Penn State Wilkes-Barre and Scranton: In-person classes suspended through April 3. Courses continue online.
- Wilkes University: In-person classes suspended until April 3 and set to resume April 6. Courses continue online. All university-sponsored events canceled through April 5 and athletic events canceled through March 30.
- Lackawanna County: Johnson College, Keystone University and Marywood University extended spring break to March 23 and canceled events for the week of March 15. University of Scranton extended spring break to March 30, and classes will be held online from March 30 to April 9.
- The state education department announced the cancellation of all standardized tests, including the Keystone exams and the PSSAs, for the 2019-20 school year, joining several states that have already made such a move. The department is seeking waivers from the federal rules that require the tests.
- The FM Kirby Center has cancelled Dinosaur World Live. Tickets can be honored instead for a Dragons and Mythical Beasts show set for Jan 2021.
- Joe Nardone’s Doo Wop and Legends showing at the Kirby Center for March 28th has been postponed, and is awaiting a new date.
- The Mickey Spain Concert at the FM Kirby Center has been postponed. New date is TBA.
- The Aaron Lewis show set for Friday, 3/13 inside Mohegan Sun Arena has been postponed to May 29th.
- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders have postponed their April 9th season opener. A new date is TBA.
- The AHL has suspended play for all its teams, including the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, until further notice.
- PIAA has shut down basketball tournaments for the state for at least 2 weeks, as well as the state AA swimming tournament. The wrestling classic at Hanover schedule for Saturday has also been postponed.
- Price Chopper / Market 32 has announced reduced hours. Locations will close at 1am and reopen at 6am for extra stocking and cleaning.
- Walmart has announced reduced hours. Walmart stores will open from 6am to 11pm, and will close overnight to allow for stocking and cleaning.
- The Luzerne County Assistance office is closed to the public,as is all public assistance offices throughout the state. Clients are urged to use online resources through COMPASS and the myCOMPASS PA mobile app. Eligibility determinations, application processing, benefit issuance and EBT payments are all scheduled to continue.
- Gerrity’s Supermarkets will open exclusively to senior citizens aged 60 and up on Tuesdays from 7-9am to complete their shopping needs. ID will be required – helpers, aids or family members will not be allowed in the store. Starting Thursday stores will also close 1 hour early for additional cleaning and stocking. Stores will close at 9pm Monday-Saturday and 8pm on Sundays.
- Target will close all stores by 9pm daily to restock and clean. The first open hour of shopping each Wednesday will be set aside for elderly and other vulnerable guests
- Sam’s Club will now be open Monday-Saturday from 9am-8pm, and Sunday 10am-6pm
- Wegman’s is limiting store hours from 7am-10pm.
- Price Chopper will have the following hours of operation: 7am-10pm. All stores will open exclusively to seniors from 6-7am daily starting Thursday, March 19th.
- The St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre is offering 1 free takeout meal per day at 11am. The Kitchen Pantry will remain open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-1, bags will be distributed at the door.
- The SPCA of Luzerne County has closed visiting hours. All public interactions are by appointment only, as staff continues to work and care for the animals.
- Carbondale school pickup at the high school courtyard from 11:30am-1pm
- Dunmore is offering breakfast and lunch at the elementary center from 11am-1:30pm
- Lakeland is offering lunch from 12-1 at Mayfield Elementary
- Mid Valley is offering breakfast and lunch from 10am-12pm at the elementary schools bus circle.
- North Pocono is offering breakfast and lunch from 7am-12pm at Jefferson Elementary or NP Intermediate School
- Riverside is offering breakfast and lunch at Elementary EAST and the Junior.Senior High School from 1-2:30, as well as again at the high school rom 5:30-6:30pm.
- Valley View will have breakfast and lunch at the elementary and high school from 11am-12:30.
- Wayne Highlands is holding a free grab-n-go lunch for students from March 16-27 from 11am-1pm at the following locations: Damascus Area School, Honesdale High School, Preston Area School and The Cooperage in Honesdale.
- Scranton will offer breakfast from 7:30-9am and lunch from 11am-1pm at the following locations: McNicholas Plaza Elementary, John Whittier Elementary, John Adams Elementary, John F Kennedy Elementary, Charles Sumner Elementary, Robert Morris Elementary, Frances Willard Elementary, George Bancroft Elementary, William Prescott Elementary, Neil Armstrong Elementary, Issac Tripp Elementary, West Scranton Intermediate, South Scranton Intermediate, Scranton High School and West Scranton High School.
- Wyoming Valley West will offer free grab-n-go lunches for students from 11am-12:30 pm at the following locations during the closure: WVW High School in Plymouth, WVW Middle School in Kingston, State Street Elementary in Larksville, Schuyler Ave in Kingston and Dana Street Elementary in Forty-Fort. Any student in the district can use any of these locations.
- Wilkes-Barre Area is offering free lunches weekdays at the following locations: Dodson, Heights, Flood, Kistler and Solomon Elementary Schools as well as Coughlin (both locations).
- Berwick will offer breakfast and lunch from 10:30-12:30 at all school locations.
- Crestwood will offer bagged lunches from 11am-1pm at the High School and White Haven Library.
- Dallas residents are asked to call 570-675-5201, ext. 5298 for assistance.
- Nanticoke will have breakfast and lunch from 11:30-12:30 at Apollo Circle, GNA High School bus port, Tilbury Fire Hall, Glen Lyon American Legion and the Hanover section firehouse.
- Hanover Area will have bagged lunches from 11-11:30 at the entrance to Stoney Ridge Apartments, Dundee Apartments, high school back parking lot, Memorial Elementary School lot, Lee Park school playground, Lynwood School playground.
- Hazleton Area will have lunch from 11:30am-1pm at Maple Manor, Heights-Terrace and Valley.
- Lake-Lehman will have breakfast and lunch from 11-1 at the rear of the Junior/Senior High School.
- Northwest Area will have bagged lunches from 11:30-12:30 at Fairmont United Methodist Church, Schickshinny Borough Building, Northwest Intermediate School and the high school.
- Pittston Area will have food for students from 11-1 at the rear of the high school, intermediate center bus drop and primary center student drop off.
- Wyoming Area will have lunches from 11:30-1pm at the Secondary Center Cafeteria.
- Active Adult Centers in Luzerne County have been shut down at this time. If an older adult needs food assistance please contact Meals on Wheels or the County Bureau on Aging.
- While most daycare in the state have shuttered it’s doors by this point, the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA is offering childcare services to workers who have essential jobs. This includes healthcare or government workers, or workers whose employer is mandated to stay open. The rest of the facility is closed to the public, which is allowing fora safe amount of space between the children.
- Lackawanna Trail will have a pick up at the Elementary Center from 10-1pm.
- Tunkhannock Area will have pickups at the High School and Intermediate Centers. Students whose Last Names begin with A-L should go to the IC. Students whose last names begin with M-Z should go to the high school from 4