Tribute to seniors tonight, new case level spikes

Several area high schools will be taking part in a special event to honor their seniors and those working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning at 7 p.m., area high school football stadiums will be lit up in honor of all members of the Class of 2020 that had their school year’s cut short and in support of all the nurses, doctors and first responders on the front line in the fight against COVID-19.

In addition to the stadium lights, the scoreboard will be lit up with a 20-20 score in honor of the graduating class with the yardage marker being set at 4th down and 19 yards to go, signifying that COVID-19 is on its final down.

While the tribute is going on, no one is permitted on the school grounds, but are encouraged to get their favorite noisemaker and spirit wear and take either a selfie or video and post it on social media and tagging your school in it along with either the league or district the school is in and the hashtag #PIAATogether.

On Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Department of Human Services (DHS) will begin emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit issuance today in line with the federal government’s interpretation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Payments include a supplemental increase for both March and April and will continue to be issued for current SNAP households through April 29. DHS is also advising Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance of local supports that can help meet essential needs during the public health crisis.

“This pandemic is creating economic strains for many Pennsylvanians, and we are doing all we can to help the 1.8 million Pennsylvanians who use SNAP to keep food on the table have a little flexibility to make additional grocery purchases and reduce trips to the grocery store,” Gov. Wolf said. “I hope it will help ease circumstances for Pennsylvanians during this difficult economic period.”

DHS received approval from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to issue emergency payments that will allow DHS to increase a household’s currently monthly payment up to the maximum monthly payment for each household size. DHS had requested authorization to issue an additional benefit equal to a household’s monthly payment to all SNAP households and was denied.

The number of new cases rose on Friday in Pennsylvania. According to information released on Pa. Department of Health’s website, there are currently 29,441 confirmed cases, a increase of 1,706 cases in 24 hours..

Dauphin County reported 24 new positive cases on Friday, while eight new positive tests were added in Schuylkill County, bringing Dauphin’s total to 311 cases with seven deaths and Schuylkill up to 244 cases with four deaths. Northumberland County remained at 60 confirmed cases.

Philadelphia County, the hot spot of the state, reported 454  new cases, bringing their total over the 8,000-mark since the outbreak began.

Government officials from Pennsylvania must continue to stay diligent against the coronavirus in order to “flatten the curve,” with new mask restrictions for people shopping or workers in essential businesses.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

A new report coming in the daily update from the state Department of Health is reporting the negative tests for each county. Dauphin is listed as having 2,178 negative tests while Schuylkill reported 1,375 negative test and 218 in Northumberland County.

In nursing home and long-term care facilities, Dauphin County is the only area county listed in the table having three facilities, 36 cases among residents (one up from yesterday), two cases among employees and one death.

With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.

The state also updated numbers of age ranges of the positive cases and hospitalizations to date. Currently 2,584 Pennsylvania residents are hospitalized with the virus and its complications.

The breakdown is as follows:

Positive cases

Ages 0-4, <1%; 5-12, <1%; 13-18, 1%; 19-24, 6%; 25-49, 40%; 50-64, 29%, 65+, 23%


Ages 0-29, 1.9%; 30-49, 4.8%; 50-64, 9.2%; 65-79, 20.4%; 80+, 21.5%

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

Adams-70 (1), Allegheny-947 (43), Armstrong-32 (2), Beaver-178 (15), Bedford-13 (1),  Berks-1,537 (34), Blair-14, Bradford-20, Bucks-1,524 (64), Butler-157 (5), Cambria-14 (1), Cameron-1 Carbon-118 (7), Centre-73, Chester-739 (30), Clarion-18, Clearfield-9, Clinton-10, Columbia-166 (3), Crawford-16, Cumberland-154 (4), Dauphin-311 (7), Delaware-2,226 (73), Elk-2, Erie-48, Fayette-66 (3), Forest-7, Franklin-89, Fulton-2, Greene-24, Huntingdon-12, Indiana-45 (2), Jefferson-2, Juniata-63, Lackawanna-592 (30), Lancaster-1,030 (35), Lawrence-59 (5), Lebanon-424 (2), Lehigh-2,092 (29), Luzerne-1,688 (31), Lycoming-32, McKean-4, Mercer-56 (1), Mifflin-17, Monroe-929 (29), Montgomery-2,684 (97), Montour-48, Northampton-1,335 (27), Northumberland-60, Perry-18 (1), Philadelphia-8,138 (136), Pike-290 (8), Potter-4, Schuylkill-244 (4), Snyder-25 (1), Somerset-15, Sullivan-1, Susquehanna-58 (1), Tioga-14 (1), Union-26, Venango-6, Warren-1, Washington-75 (1), Wayne-81 (2), Westmoreland-249 (13), Wyoming-16 (1), York-443 (4).

As of noon April 16, there have been 117,932 negative tests for the coronavirus, an increase of 4,197 over 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 April 15, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 632,548 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 31,051 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 need to go out and will be around other people, 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.