Sunday, July 5, 2020

Dept. Of Health Reports 4 Additional Deaths From COVID-19 In PA

On July 5, the Department of Health reported 4 more people have died in Pennsylvania from COVID-19 for a total of 6,753 confirmed deaths.
As of 12:00 a.m. July 5, there were 479 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 89,854 in all 67 counties.

County-specific information and a statewide map are available.

There are 734,846 patients who have tested negative to date.  Approximately 6,806 of Pennsylvania’s total positive cases are in health care workers.

Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

-- Nearly 1 percent are aged 0-4;

-- 1 percent are aged 5-12;

-- Nearly 3 percent are aged 13-18;

-- Nearly 8 percent are aged 19-24;

-- Nearly 37 percent are aged 25-49;

-- 24 percent are aged 50-64; and

-- 27 percent are aged 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. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 17,923 resident cases of COVID-19, and  3,346 cases among employees, for a total of 21,296 at 709 distinct facilities in 52 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,592 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.  Click Here for a county breakdown.

For the latest information on the coronavirus and precautions to take in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage, Follow them on Twitter, or Like them on Facebook.

NewsClips/Announcements:

Click Here For This Week’s PA Coronavirus NewsClips

Helpful Links:

Responding To COVID-19 In Pennsylvania - General Resource Page All Topics

Attorney General - Coronavirus Price Gouging Updates 

Workers Can Report Businesses Not Following Protective Guidance Here

[Posted: July 5, 2020]

July 6 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The July 6 PA Environment Digest is now available.

Click Here To View Or Print The Entire PA Environment Digest


[ Headlines ]


House Speaker Cutler: Republicans Will First Raid Dedicated Funds To Balance Budget In November


DEP Our Common Wealth Blog: How To Protect Your Home Watershed And Why You Should


CBF Blog: Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership Helping To Reclaim Abandoned Mine Land


U.S. House Passes Infrastructure Bill Including Abandoned Mine Reclamation Initiatives, And Extension Of Federal Reclamation Fee


DEP Works Thru Pandemic: 475 More Permits, 1,656 More Inspections Since Last Week


House Republicans List Bill Taking Away DEP’s Authority To Enact A Carbon Pollution Reduction Program Covering Power Plants For A Vote This Week


New Data Released On Flood Risk Of Every Home In U.S. Due To Climate Change Impacts; 370,200 More Properties In PA At Substantial Risk


DEP Launches Next Round Of Local Climate Action Program, New Webpage


Federal Appeals Court Stops FERC's Inappropriate Use of Tolling Orders In Pipeline Cases, Gives Landowners Back Their Rights


DCNR Seeking Online Public Input On Pennsylvania’s Public & Private Forests


Rural, Older Women Offer Insight On Why Nature Is Important When Aging In Place; Coping With Pandemic


DCNR Reminds State Park Visitors Of Possible Crowding This Summer


Keep PA Beautiful: Take Pride On The 4th Of July And Every Day-- DON’T LITTER!


Gov. Wolf: $225 Million Federal CARES Funding Available For Small Businesses Impacted By COVID-19


July 4th Op-Ed: The Right Of The Governed To Be Heard - Lawmakers Ignoring Overwhelming Calls For Reform To Eliminate Gerrymandering


[ News From The Capitol ]


PA Capitol & COVID-19 Weekly Report: COVID-19 Emergency Continues, Early Budget Talk, Police Reform Bills Move


Senate/House Bills Moving Last Week


Bills On Governor's Desk


Senate/House Agenda/Session Schedule [Updated]/Bills Introduced


Reports Released On Economic, Environmental Impacts Of Single-Use Plastics Bans/Fees


Joint Conservation Committee: Human & Environmental Benefits To Zero Waste Living


[ The Feds ]


Federal Court Decision Requires EPA To Update Air Pollution Standards For Coal Coking Operations


Two Philadelphia Organizations Receive EPA Funding To Support Environmental Justice Projects


National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: U.S. House Select Committee Recommendations On Climate Provides Path For Climate Resilient Agriculture


NOAA, NAAEE Announce Award Of 29 Watershed STEM Education Grants, 3 In PA


[ Water ]


DEP Invites Comments On Proposed TMDL For Watershed In Lehigh County


Pike Conservation District Highlights Resources For Managing Small Woodlots, Protecting Clean Water


Opportunity To Bid On DEP Mine Reclamation Project In Allegheny County


Summer Guardian Newsletter Now Available From Susquehanna River Basin Commission


PA Resources Council Backyard Composting, Watershed/Rain Barrel, Recycling/Waste Reduction Webinars


[ Climate - Energy ]


Pittsburgh Cosponsors U.S. Conference Of Mayors Resolution Calling On Cities To Divest From Fossil Fuel Industries


DEP Offers First-Come, First-Served Fast Charging, Hydrogen Fueling Grants Under Driving PA Forward


PUC Urges Consumers To Watch Out For Questionable Energy Marketing Pitches


Penn State PA Technical Assistance Program Webinar July 16: Funding For Energy Efficiency Equipment Upgrades


[ Hazardous Sites ]


DEP Completes Hazardous Sites Cleanup Response At Pool Doctor-Beaver Alkali Products, Beaver County


[ Forests - Land Conservation - Biodiversity ]


TreeVitalize Pittsburgh: Apply Now For Spring 2021 Tree Plantings In Pittsburgh


Gov. Pinchot's Grey Towers Historic Site Festival Of Wood Canceled In Pike County


The Nature Conservancy-PA Protects 127 Acres On Kittatinny Ridge In Schuylkill County


Brodhead Watershed Assn. Holds Online Native Plant Sale For Pickup September 12 In Monroe County


New Penn State Checklist Of PA Bees Documents 49 New Species, Some May Be Endangered


[ Environmental Ed ]


Wildlands Conservancy Pre-School, Elementary, Middle School Camp-2-U Programs Now Thru August


[ Recreation ]


DCNR, Health Announce Expansion Of Free Sunscreen Program At State Park Beaches


PA Land Trust Assn. September Building Trails In Wetlands & Wet Areas Workshops In Allegheny, Cumberland Counties


State Redevelopment Assistance Capitol Program Opens Application Period July 15


July 3 Take Five Fridays With Pam, PA Parks & Forests Foundation


[ Wildlife ]


Wildlife For Everyone: SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority Contributes In-Kind Gift To Centre County Soaring Eagle Wetland Project


Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Spring Migration Raptor Count 30% Above 10 Year Average


Endangered Species Coalition Hosts Upcoming Online Spotlight Series Highlighting Specific Wildlife Corridors In PA


PA Sea Grant: Boaters Reminded To Clean, Drain, Dry Equipment To Prevent Spread Of Aquatic Invasive Species


[ Helpful Resources ]


Environment & Energy NewsClips


Public Participation Opportunities/Calendar Of Events


Grants & Awards  


Regulations, Technical Guidance & Permits


CLICK HERE To View Or Print Entire PA Environment Digest


Stories Invited - About PA Environment Digest


PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference Oct. 28-29 In State College


Supporting Member PA Outdoor Writers Assn./PA Trout Unlimited


Additional Tools--

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PA Environment Digest Twitter Feed: Update on PA environmental issues.

PA Environment Daily Blog: Update on PA environmental issues.

Click Here for a Calendar of Upcoming Events.

Click Here to search back issues of the Digest.

Questions? Email: PaEnviroDigest@gmail.com

PA Capitol & COVID-19 Weekly Report: COVID-19 Emergency Continues, Early Budget Talk, Police Reform Bills Move

The PA Supreme Court last week turned aside Senate Republican attempts to end the COVID-19 emergency declared by Gov. Wolf
saying simply-- in 40 pages-- Republicans didn’t follow the state constitution.
As Gov. Wolf has said all along, the resolution Senate and House Republicans passed ending the emergency was not presented to the Governor for his action and the state constitution requires “presentment” to the Governor.  Read more here.

Senate Republicans called the decision a “titanic shift in power” and noted they had already started the process to amend the constitution to limit the Governor’s emergency authority.

House Republicans said they will “continue to work on helping Pennsylvanians rebuild and recover from the Governor’s decisions.”

This is not the first time Senate and House Republicans wanted unilateral authority, with no oversight by the Governor, to end programs they do not like.

Both Senate and House Republicans have moved or passed bills authorizing themselves to kill any final regulation from any agency by doing nothing. This is another scheme that’s clearly unconstitutional.  Read more here.

Virus Cases Increase

Last week Pennsylvania saw an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases, particularly in Allegheny County, Philadelphia, Dauphin and Lancaster counties, as restrictions were eased over the last few weeks.  Read more here.

Allegheny County health officials called the increases ‘truly alarming’ and reimposed bans on on-premises alcohol consumption and recommended quarantine for travelers coming back to the County from states where virus cases have increased dramatically.  Read more here.

While Philadelphia moved into the Green Phase of reopening, they kept restrictions banning indoor dining and will not allow bars, gyms and fitness centers to reopen.  Read more here.

Gov. Wolf and the state Health Department followed up by issuing an expanded order requiring masks to be worn whenever anyone leaves home and goes to a public space [Read more here] and recommended a 14-day self-quarantine period for state residents returning from 15 states seeing dramatic increases in the number of COVID-19 cases [Read more here].

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Jones (R-York), an ardent opponent of mandated COVID-19 measures on all fronts but particularly of wearing masks, told his constituents to “ignore the order if you choose to.”  Read more here.

COVID-19 Death Toll

The number of deaths from COVID-19 increased from 6,606 deaths on June 28 to 6,753 on July 5. The number of people testing positive for the virus went from 85,496 cases on June 28 to 89,854 cases on July 5.

Unemployment

From March 15 to July 1, the total number of unemployment claims were 2,237,204, up from 2,190.224 last week.

Regional unemployment numbers reported last week show reductions in May of around 3 percent--  Lehigh Valley dropped 3 points to 13.8 percent; Erie fell 3.4 points to 13.8 percent; Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton dropped 2.9 points to 15.5 percent; and Lancaster fell 3.8 points to 11.4 percent, but that’s still triple last year’s number.

Two lawmakers-- Rep. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington) and Rep. Joe Ciresi (D-Montgomery)-- wrote a letter to House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) asking for the House Committee on Oversight to conduct an investigation into the state’s unemployment system failures during the COVID-10 pandemic.  Read more here.

$225M To Help Businesses/Deadline Short

July 9 is the last day to apply for the first round of grants from the $225 million in federal CARES Funding to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small businesses need to apply through local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). Read more here.

Poll Position

A FOX43/Susquehanna Polling and Research released last Monday found 49 percent of registered or likely voters said they approve of Gov. Wolf’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 42 percent disapprove.

A poll by FOX43/Susquehanna Polling and Research in April showed 68 percent of respondents approved of Wolf’s management of the pandemic, while 18 percent disapproved.

Trump/Biden: Monday’s poll found 46 percent of respondents said they would definitely or probably vote for Joe Biden for President, while 41 percent said they would definitely or probably vote for a second term of Trump.

April’s poll had Biden with a bigger lead-- 48 to 42 percent-- over Trump.

Dedicated Funds First Target Of Nov. Budget

On July 1, House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said Republicans will be first looking to raid dedicated funds and divert revenue streams going into those funds to balance the state’s budget in November when the five month budget they passed in May runs out.

He made the comments on the July 1 WITF Smart Talk Program [about 26 minutes in] when asked how Republicans would make up a $4 or $5 billion state budget deficit in November.

Speaker Cutler said, “Our goal is to more closely align our expenditures with the revenue that's coming in. And that obviously could mean cuts for retooling of some programs. It also should mean though I think using the surpluses that we already have available. 

“There are special accounts and lapse funds that the governor has control of that number into the hundreds of millions of dollars. That should be the first place that we look.” Read more here.

FY 2019-20 $3.2 Billion Short

On July 1, the Department of Revenue reported Pennsylvania ended the 2019-20 fiscal year with revenues $3.2 billion, or 9.1 percent, below estimates.  FY 2019-20 revenues totaled $32.3 billion.

General Fund collections for June totaled $2.7 billion, which was $577.4 million, or 17.8 percent, less than anticipated. 

The department estimates that approximately $133 million of the $577.4 million shortfall in June can be attributed to moving due dates for various taxes. It is estimated that the remaining $444.4 million of the June shortfall is due to reduced economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more here.

Expanded Gambling?

It was a no-go, at least for last week, on Senate action to expand gambling and use of video gaming terminals.  No doubt, they will try again as budget pressures mount.

Police/Law Enforcement Reform

The Senate last week opted to give final approval to a pair of House police reform bills-- House Bill 1841 (Readshaw-D-Allegheny) requiring disclosure of police officer employment records and providing for increased training  (House Fiscal Note & Summary) and House Bill 1910 (Williams-D-Chester) further providing for police bias training and mental health evaluations  (House Fiscal Note & Summary).

The bills are now in the process of getting to the Governor’s desk for action.

The Senate also sent two other bills to the House on police reform-- Senate Bill 459 (Costa-D-Allegheny) requiring the reporting of use-of-force incidents (Senate Fiscal Note & Summary)  and Senate Bill 1205 (Street-D-Philadelphia)  requiring the development of use-of-force policies by police departments (Senate Fiscal Note & Summary).

One law enforcement reform bill did make it to the Governor's desk and was signed into law last week-- Senate Bill 637 (DiSanto-R-Cumberland) would make it easier for ex-offenders to get professional licenses for 29 different job categories and reenter the workforce (House Fiscal Note & Summary). Read more here.

Gov. Wolf and other stakeholders celebrated a clean slate bill that became law a year ago that has helped 1 million people get jobs and housing by wiping away 35 million arrest records and minor criminal charges that were standing in their way.  Read more here.

Mail-In Ballot Lawsuit

While Pennsylvania Republicans have generally supported mail-in balloting, the Trump Campaign last week filed a lawsuit against the state and every county over issues like setting up convenient mail-in ballot drop boxes.  Read more here.

In response to the lawsuit, York County is looking at increasing the number of mail-in ballot drop boxes.  Read more here.

This week, the House is expected to move legislation to address some of the voting problems arising from the June 2 Primary election, among them mail-in balloting.  Read more here.

Prescription Pricing Transparency

The Senate amended and passed House Bill 943 (Gaydos-R-Allegheny) that prohibits “gag clauses” in pharmacy benefit manager contracts with pharmacies which prohibits pharmacists from disclosing any information to their customers that could potentially reduce their out-of-pocket costs for medications.

The bill is now in the House which is scheduled to take a concurrence vote this week.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee also reported out House Bill 941 (Heffley-R-Carbon) providing for pricing transparency and addressing inadequate reimbursement rates for prescription drugs by pharmacy benefit managers in the state Medicaid Program.  The bill is now on the Senate Calendar for action. 

Fireworks On Fireworks

Before the July 4th holiday, the Senate amended and passed legislation-- Senate Bill 932 (Boscola-D-Lehigh)-- giving officials in only nine local governments-- Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Allentown, Erie, Reading, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Bensalem Township, Bucks County-- authority to ban the use of consumer fireworks in their jurisdictions.

Many Senators were not happy it didn’t cover their communities, but voted 48 to 2 to send the bill to the House.

State-Owned Universities’ Reform Now Law

Gov. Wolf signed House Bill 2171 (Sonney-R-Erie) makes fundamental changes to the authority of the Board governing the 14 state-owned universities to consolidate schools, eliminate programs, turn existing schools into branch campuses of other universities, create new schools, and share back-office services.

The future of those institutions could look quite different with these reforms.  Read more here.

Sad Connection To Russian Bounty Issue

PA Post reported the deaths of three Marine Reservists, two of whom were part of a unit based in Harrisburg, are now being investigated by the U.S. to determine if they died because of Russian bounties for killing U.S. service members.  Read more here.

What’s Next?

The House is scheduled to be in voting session July 7 and 8 and high on its list of priorities is moving legislation to fix voting problems arising from the June 2 Primary election.  Read more here.

House Republicans also listed House Bill 2025 (Struzzi-R-Indiana), a bill that takes away DEP’s authority to enact any program to reduce carbon pollution emissions, for a vote by the full House.

The Senate has no fixed date for returning to voting session and remains at the call of the President Pro Tempore.

NewsClips:

Click Here For A Week’s Worth Of Political NewsClips

Click Here For PA Coronavirus NewsClips

Click Here For A Week’s Worth Of Environment & Energy NewsClips

[Posted: July 5, 2020]

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