COVID-19: Local Updates & Information

 

 

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 APRIL 30TH. 

Get the latest report from the Pennsylvania Department of Heath here.

Click here to view Gov Wolf’s updated list of non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania.

 

Updated as of Friday, April 3rd at 3pm:

  • During a COVID-19 press briefing today Governor Tom Wolf recommended that all Pennsylvanians wear a mask any time they leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons. As COVID-19 cases steadily rise in the state, Gov. Wolf stressed the need to intensify all measures to help stop the spread of the virus.
  • There are now 8,420 cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania – an increase of 1,404 cases in the last 24 hours. The state’s death toll has reached 102.
  • Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat made a disaster proclamation Friday, announcing a new city-wide curfew starting at 8pm Saturday, April 4th. It forbids people in the city to be out driving or standing on public streets, parks and other spaces between 8pm and 6am. 
  • In addition, All individuals who are now immediate family members must stay 6 feet away from one another when outside, and gathering of more than 4 indvidudials are forbidden. 
  • Mayor Cusat is also asking neighboring municipalities to enact similar measures in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus in the area that has been dubbed as NEPA’s epicenter. He said Hazleton has over 300 positive cases of COVID-19.
  • The Coronavirus is now in 63 counties.
  • Luzerne County added an additional 100 positive cases in the last day, going from 384 to 484. Luzerne County now has 5 deaths, as well.
  • Lackawanna County now has 119 cases, up from 108. It now has 4 deaths.
  • 852 patients with COVID-19, or about 10% of patients, have been hospitalized since the first positive case on March 6th.
  • Dr. Levine said the state will now reccomend that the public wear masks when out of their homes. The announcement comes following several debates and discussions among members of the CDC. She said if one must go out, then wearing a mask – or even bandana or scarf – can add an extra layer of safety. She stressed that the public DO NOT BUY N95 or surgical masks. www.health.pa.gov has instructions on how to make a homemade mask.
  • Gov. Wolf is asking religious leaders to host Easter gatherings in a safe way, such as via online streaming.
  • More than 300 people have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the city of Hazleton… Luzerne County’s total cases is now 484…that’s a jump of more than 100 from yesterday.  It’s the highest number in NEPA.
  • Health officials believe that is because many people in Hazleton are not practicing social distancing and are traveling back and forth to New York and New Jersey.
  • State health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says they are closely monitoring this area Lackawanna County has 119.
  • In the past two weeks, Pennsylvania has seen more than 780,000 people sign up for unemployment that accounts for nearly 12% of the state’s workforce.  That’s the second highest total behind California.
  • The state has confirmed a staff member at the state correctional institution at Retreat in Luzerne County has tested positive for the Coronavirus.  The facility is being used as the statewide quarantine zone for the prison system.
  • Gerrity’s Grocery Stores have installed clear curtains around their cashiers, the owner says it’s to protect employees AND customers. They’ve also placed stickers on the ground to show people how far apart they should be standing.
  • Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti is hosting virtual town hall meetings to answer questions about the Coronavirus.  The next one is set for noon today.
  • The Coronavirus has now infected more than a million people worldwide.  A quarter of the cases are in the United States… More than 245,000 people have tested positive.
  • Unemployment numbers are hitting record highs.  Since early last month, there has been an increase of 3,000% for first-time unemployment claims.  There have been more than 10 million claims in the last two weeks alone.
  • The Small Business Paycheck Protection Program begins today, it offers loans up to $100,000 for small businesses with less than 500 employees. This is a federal loan program, all loans will be forgiven IF employers keep – and continue – paying their employees.
  • The FBI discovered a person was hoarding more than half a million personal protective medical equipment, including N95 masks and gloves along with other items.  They were confiscated and sent to health officials on the frontlines fighting the Coronavirus in New York and New Jersey.
  • The mayors of New York City and Los Angeles are encouraging their residents to wear homemade masks when they are out in public.  They stressed they do not want people wearing medical masks, those need to be saved for those in the health care field.


Updated as of Thursday, April 2nd at 3pm:

  • There are now 7,016 cases of the Coronavirus in Pennsylvania – an increase of 1,211 in the past 24 hours.
  • Luzerne County jumped to 384 cases on Thursday.
  • Reporters again asked Dr. Levine why Luzerne County and other parts of NEPA are seeing such high rates compared to other counties. Dr. Levine said she is aware of the issue and paying close attention to both Northeast and Southeast Pennsylvania to ensure area hospitals can handle the incoming capacity of patients, and also working with field hospitals as well.
  • She also noted that the virus has reached over 200 of the state’s nursing homes in some capacity.
  • On children and teens, Dr. Levine also stressed to make a normal routine with limited access to see and hear the news.
  • COVID-19 is now in 62 coutnies statewide. 730 indivudials have been hospitalized, or about 10% of patients, since March 6th.
  • If you’re traveling from NYC – even with a N95 mask – you are requested to self-quarentine for 14 days.
  • The Mayor of Hazleton, Jeff Cusat says he believes there are more than 200 confirmed cases in his city alone but because many of the residents have addresses in New York and New Jersey, they may not be counted in the Pennsylvania totals.
  • Lacey’s bar and catering in Nanticoke was closed by the Liquor Control Board for allegedly failing to comply with Governor Wolf’s business closure order.
  • You can buy liquor once again. The LCB resumed limited sales from their website, they are accepting a controlled number of orders per day.  Customers can only purchase up to 6 bottles per transaction from a limited catalog of their top selling items.  All orders must be shipped to your residence and only one order per address will be fulfilled per day.
  • The Irem Shrine Circus announced it will be postponing its show set for this month until April of next year.  All 2020 tickets will be honored at next year’s show.
  • Nearly all of the US must stay at home.  At least 45 states are now under the orders as the numbers of Coronavirus cases across the country are increasing.
  • The US death toll is now more than 5,0000.
  • Field hospitals are going up across the nation from Massachusetts to Illinois to help care for the sick.  U
  • S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the CDC is reviewing its thinking about otherwise healthy people wearing face masks to ward off the virus.
  • In Connecticut, a six week old baby died from the Coronavirus, now believed to be the youngest victim.
  • More than 40 college students from Texas tested positive after returning from spring break in Mexico.
  • California will close their schools for the rest of the year, relying on distance learning.
  • In New York, the death toll is reaching 2 thousand, doubling in just 72 hours. The governor ordered all playgrounds and basketball courts in New York City to close, trying to make sure people social distance.  Open spaces in parks will stay open to provide people with areas to exercise with less density.
  • U.S. Navy officials say nearly 3,000 sailors aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier where the Coronavirus has spread will be taken off the ship by tomorrow as military leaders struggle to quarantine crew members in the face of an outbreak. Nearly 100 sailors on board have tested positive.


Updated as of Wednesday, April 1st at 4pm:

  • Gov. Tom Wolf placed ALL OF PENNSYLVANIA under an order to stay at home, dramatically expanding the geographic footprint of the quarantine as state officials combat the Coronavirus pandemic until April 30th. 
  • Luzerne County jumped from 150 to 282 cases, and Lackawanna County spread to 85 cases in the last 24 hours. In comparison, Columbia County has 8 cases, while Sullivan and Wyoming Counties have no reported cases at this time.
  • Levine said she was unsure why Luzerne County has a higher rate of COVID-19 cases than its bordering counties, though noted that the virus is at a point of community spread and enforcing the need to stay home.
  • General Josh Shapiro’sasked that his ban on evictions and foreclosures has been extended through April 30th. The order applies to all state property owners, managers, landlords and mortgage lenders.
  • The PA Supreme Court ordered all eviction proceedings closed until at least April 3rd.
  • Wolf said since March 15th, close to 1 million new claims have come through the state unemployment office, and assured viewers that they are working as quickly as possible to process claims at this time.
  • Wolf shut down short-term rentals, such as Air BnB’s, yesterday.
  • Luzerne County now stands at 212 cases, up from 150 yesterday with 4 deaths.
  • Lackawanna County has 78 with 3 deaths.
  • The number statewide now stands at more than 48 hundred. Governor Tom Wolf has extended the stay at home order to seven more Pennsylvania counties, bringing the total to 33 counties under the order.
  • In Philadelphia, police officers may issue citations and fines to people who violate the Mayors “stay at home” orders. Those fines could be up to a hundred dollars. State Police are warning of a scam regarding the upcoming stimulus checks.
  • Scammers are contacting people via phone, text, or email claiming they need to provide personal and/or financial information to receive their stimulus relief. You are urged not to provide any information. No government representatives will request this information.
  • This Sunday is Palm Sunday. Palms will not be available in churches in the Diocese of Scranton. Bishop Bambera has prohibited parishes from putting the palms out for parishioners to take if they visit the church. Public masses have been cancelled but churches are still open for private prayer. The Bishop has also granted Catholics in the diocese special dispensation allowing them to eat meat this Friday in an effort to help people who may have difficulties in shopping for food.
  • More Americans have died from the Coronavirus than died on 9/11.  Four thousand Americans have now died.
  • The US has more than 189 thousand confirmed cases.  President Trump warned the COVID-19 death toll could peak around Easter and normalcy may not return until June 1st or later. He said the next two weeks will be very difficult.
  • Federal officials are warning that 100 to 200 thousand American could die even if mitigation efforts including “stay-at-home” orders issued in many states continue.
  • Small businesses seeking loans through the government’s $2 trillion Coronavirus relief package could receive money as soon as Friday.  The government is using a more streamlined approval process meaning the money can be available to borrowers the same day.
  • Business and schools no longer have a set date to resume operations, and instead are closed indefinitely.
  • President Trump extended the federal social distancing guidelines until April 30th. They were originally set to be in place for 15 days which would have ended tomorrow.
  • Trump also announced that two of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, Humana and Cigna, will be waving copays for anyone treated for the Coronavirus.

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.

Events

  • 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.

Education

  • 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.

Venues

  • 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.

Lunch/Daycare Programs

Lackwanna County

  • 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 Eloementary, West Scranton Intermediate, South Scranton Intermediate, Scranton High School and West Scranton High School.

 

Luzerne County

  • 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.

 

Wyoming County

  • 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

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