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Area schools to get COVID-19 Emergency funds

Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has approved Pennsylvania’s application for $523.8 million in one-time federal emergency funds to help schools respond to COVID-19 impacts.

“Our schools and educators have been working tirelessly to help students and their families during this crisis,” said Governor Wolf. “These efforts must be paired with investments that reflect the unprecedented scale of this challenge. USDE’s approval of Pennsylvania’s application is an important first step in securing those investments.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) submitted its Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund application to USDE last week.

Beginning today, local education agencies (LEAs) can apply to PDE to receive their allocation of the funding and can expect to start receiving funds within the next several weeks.

“As educators, our top priority has always been to ensure the health and safety of staff and students,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented change to our school communities, and school leaders across the state have stepped up to ensure students and families continue to be served. These funds will provide vital assistance during this critical time.”

LEAs may use ESSER funding for a wide range of purposes, including food service, professional training, technology purchases, sanitization and cleaning supplies, summer and after-school programs, and mental health supports. Funds must be used by September 2022. PDE is urging school entities to prioritize investments for vulnerable students and families, including those living in the deepest poverty, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.

All seven school districts in the Citizen-Standard coverage area will receive funds according to the Governor’s Office. The amounts for each district is as follows:

Halifax, $153,337; Line Mountain, $289,283; Millersburg, $135,964; Pine Grove, $293,565; Tri-Valley, $89,613; Upper Dauphin, $324,971; Williams Valley, $183,617.

Pennsylvania added 938 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday. According to information released on Pa. Department of Health’s website, there are currently 59,636 confirmed cases.

The death toll was increased by 275 souls on Thursday, but the Department of Health said 231 of those cases are over the past several weeks while 44 were over the past day.

Dauphin County added 24 cases and a death to its total on Thursday, while Schuylkill added 12 cases, while Northumberland County added four. Dauphin County currently stands at a total to 895 cases with 40 deaths, Schuylkill stands at 490 cases with 14 deaths, and Northumberland County, in the yellow phase of reopening, is at 132 confirmed cases.

In comparison, Philadelphia County, the hot spot of the state, added 248 cases and 96 deaths, putting their totals at 15,624 positive cases and reaching 1,000 deaths since the coronavirus first hit in March..

In nursing home and long-term care facilities, Dauphin County is listed in the table having three facilities affected, with 217 cases among residents, 48 cases among employees and 26 deaths. Schuylkill County has 56 residents, 17 employees affected and two deaths in nine facilities, while Northumberland County has one patient in one facility

All total, 549 facilities are reporting 12,677 cases among residents and 1,922 among employees, and have accounted for 2,896 of Pennsylvania’s 4,218 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

Officials say that the public’s effort on social distancing and wearing masks must continue to get things back to normal.

“As counties move from red to yellow, we need all Pennsylvanians to continue to follow the social distancing and mitigation efforts in place,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, which includes our seniors, those with underlying health issues, our healthcare workers and our first responders. I am proud of the work that Pennsylvanians have done so far, but we cannot stop now, we must continue to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from COVID-19.”

As far as negative tests for each county, Dauphin is listed as having 6,699 negative tests while Schuylkill reported 2,920 negative tests and 944 in Northumberland County.

The state also updated numbers of age ranges of the positive cases and hospitalizations to date. Currently 1,982 Pennsylvania residents are hospitalized with the virus and its complications, down 74 from Tuesday.

The breakdown is as follows:

Positive cases

Ages 0-4, <1%; 5-12, <1%; 13-18, 1%; 19-24, 6%; 25-49, 37%; 50-64, 26%, 65+, 28%

Hospitalizations

Ages 0-29, 2%; 30-49, 5%; 50-64, 10%; 65-79, 20%; 80+, 19%

The counties affected and the number of confirmed cases, with the number of deaths in parentheses, are:

Adams-174 (5), Allegheny-1,551 (139), Armstrong-56 (5), Beaver-512 (82), Bedford-30 (1),  Berks-3,530 (196), Blair-32, Bradford-41 (2), Bucks-4,248 (395), Butler-199 (6), Cambria-45 (1), Cameron-2 Carbon-206 (17), Centre-128 (6), Chester-2,008 (213), Clarion-24 (1), Clearfield-33, Clinton-43, Columbia-333 (31), Crawford-21, Cumberland-477 (37), Dauphin-895 (40), Delaware-5,252 (448), Elk-6 (1), Erie-127 (3), Fayette-87 (4), Forest-7, Franklin-563 (15), Fulton-11, Greene-27 (1), Huntingdon-200, Indiana-82 (5), Jefferson-7, Juniata-94 (1), Lackawanna-1,256 (135), Lancaster-2,364 (183), Lawrence-71 (7), Lebanon-856 (19), Lehigh-3,378 (133), Luzerne-2,477 (124), Lycoming-139 (7), McKean-8 (1), Mercer-81 (2), Mifflin-54, Monroe-1,240 (69), Montgomery-5,583 (587), Montour-50, Northampton-2,566 (182), Northumberland-132, Perry-36 (1), Philadelphia-15,624 (1,000), Pike-454 (21), Potter-4, Schuylkill-490 (14), Snyder-33 (1), Somerset-32 (1), Sullivan-1, Susquehanna-82 (14), Tioga-16 (1), Union-43 (1), Venango-7, Warren-2, Washington-129 (4), Wayne-107 (5), Westmoreland-422 (32), Wyoming-31 (4), York-817 (15).

As of noon May 14, there have been 251,559 negative tests for the coronavirus, 7,388 more than the day before.

What is coronavirus?

According to the Pa. Department of Health, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. These viruses can live in animals and at times, evolve and infect people before spreading through human to human contact.

Human coronaviruses are spread just like the common cold or the flu — either through the air through coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact like touching or shaking hands, or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The symptoms can appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after a person is exposed to the illness. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to severe illness and death. As of May 12, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 1,364,061 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 82,246 deaths.

What can you do?

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
Clean surfaces frequently.
Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.
The Pa. Department of Health offers these guidelines as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Stay home as much as possible. Try to get groceries once per week instead of daily. Freedom of travel remains, but please refrain from non-essential travel. Essential travel includes things like commuting to an essential job, picking up supplies like groceries and medicine, and checking on family and pets in other households. Do not host or attend gatherings.