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Coronavirus Primer

This curation of articles is intended to help readers of The Post better understand issues involved in the 2020 COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the greater Pottstown area, Limerick, the Perkiomen Valley, their school districts, and elsewhere across Pennsylvania. Click on any headline to read a story at its source.

Aug. 4, 2020

In Pa., no plans to offset child care costs in school districts going all-virtual
Some school districts are already opting for an all-virtual start in their return to education. This has working parents exploring options, and some of them carry a hefty price tag. (KYW NewsRadio)

Pennsylvania reports no virus deaths; 1st time since March
Pennsylvania health officials on Monday reported no new deaths attributed to COVID-19 for the first time in more than four months. (Associated Press)

Aug. 3, 2020

Pa. college administrators prepare for unpredictable fall semester
Coronavirus testing, online instruction, and the ability to turn on a dime are central to reopening plans for more than 85 recently interviewed four-year colleges and universities. (PA Post)

What will sex, dating, and marriage look like on the other side of the pandemic?
Experts say lasting impacts could include dramatic shifts in what American households look like and in how they function day to day. (The Inquirer)

Coronavirus cited in bid to toss death penalty in slaying
A defense attorney is citing the coronavirus in asking a Pennsylvania judge to bar prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in the case of a man charged in a York PA shooting death last year. (Associated Press)

Aug. 1, 2020

Pottstown School Board approves all-online return to school, cancels fall sports
The Pottstown School Board on Thursday unanimously approved an all-virtual reopening plan for the first semester. All board members also spoke in favor of ceasing fall sports participation. (The Mercury)

GoFourth! Festival Canceled Due to Virus Concerns
Organizers of Pottstown’s GoFourth festival, who had moved the event from July 4th to Labor Day in the hopes of conditions allowing for fireworks and festivities, have canceled the event for 2020. (Digital Notebook)

Labor secretary visits Montco, discusses rebuilding economy
The U.S. Labor secretary was in Montgomery County on Friday, meeting with business owners to talk about rebuilding the economy. “The virus has set us back,” Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said. (KYW NewsRadio)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court tosses challenge to eviction ban
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a challenge to the governor’s statewide moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. It shields renters from losing their homes for failing to pay rent during the pandemic. (Associated Press)

Norristown opting out of fall sports due to coronavirus caution
“If we cannot guarantee a safe return to the classroom, we cannot guarantee a safe return to the playing field, course, sidelines, courts or locker rooms.” (PA Prep Live)

July 31, 2020

Getting everyone in the state to buy into contact tracing program isn’t so easy
Contact tracing is one way to help stop the spread of the disease, but healthcare workers testified in front of a panel hosted by House Democrats that getting the test results quickly is key. (WFMZ-TV)

Pennsylvania may pilot virus-tracing app popular in Ireland
A contact-tracing app that was downloaded by one-fifth of Ireland in 36 hours might undergo a pilot project in Pennsylvania that could go live in the coming weeks. (Associated Press)

July 30, 2020

Reopening Decisions …

UPSD Students to Start School Year Online
Students in the Upper Perkiomen School District will start the upcoming school year at home. Its school board voted Tuesday to adopt a full virtual instructional model to start the 2020-21 year. (Town and Country)

PIAA votes to move forward with several plans for fall season
In what was probably one of the most anticipated announcements in Pennsylvania high school sports history, the state’s governing body voted Wednesday in favor of moving forward with plans to play sports this fall season. (PA Prep Live)

Norristown, Upper Dublin school districts to start the school year all-virtual (6ABC-TV)

Montco signs with North Carolina lab, hoping for faster COVID-19 test results
Montgomery County officials say, because of long delays in COVID-19 test results, the county has signed a contract with a North Carolina lab. (KYW NewsRadio)

The next coronavirus may already be circulating in bats, study suggests
A Penn State biologist led the study, which suggests the current coronavirus has been circulating in “horseshoe” bats for decades. (The Inquirer)

July 29, 2020

Administrators say lack of ‘specific’ school reopening guidance from state is a problem
School officials taking part in a Republican lawmakers’ workshop say a lack of “specific” guidance from the state departments of Health and Education is making a tough job all but impossible. (KYW NewsRadio)

Planet Fitness will require face masks inside gyms starting in August
Planet Fitness announced Tuesday that anyone working out in its gyms at all of the company’s locations in North America will be required to wear a face mask at all times beginning Aug. 1. (Fox29-TV)

July 28, 2020

Re-opening discussions

In Pottstown, recommendation “a safety decision more than anything … for approximately a semester … safest option going to be to open the school year in a virtual format” (Superintendent Steven Rodriguez, “School Reopening Survey Results” video Monday on Facebook)

In Spring-Ford, “Returning to School in Red” with “supported in the transition to home learning” (Spring-Ford Reopening Update at the district website Monday)

Downingtown commits to virtual learning through Nov. 5 (Daily Local News)

Pennsylvania school leaders to state: We need more help
Pennsylvania’s reopening guidance for schools is too vague, and school leaders need more specifics from the state Department of Health about how to do it safely, a superintendents group said Monday. (Associated Press)

800-plus new cases in Pennsylvania as Phillies game canceled
Pennsylvania reported more than 800 new confirmed coronavirus cases Monday, as fresh concerns about it spreading prompted the cancellation of Monday night’s Major League Baseball game in Philadelphia. (Associated Press)

July 27, 2020

More people are biking on trails amid pandemic, but bicycle deaths are up
Activity on the 335 miles of trails along rivers, streams and unused railroad beds across the Delaware Valley has increased dramatically amid the coronavirus pandemic. Bicycle deaths are also on the rise. (KYW NewsRadio)

July 26, 2020

The Pandemic Has Closed Public Restrooms. Many Have Nowhere to Go
A lack of restrooms due to the pandemic has become an issue for delivery workers, taxi and ride-hailing drivers and others who make their living outside of a fixed office building. (Stateline)

Managing Stress and Anxiety During the Pandemic
COVID-19 has made a significant impact on the way many individuals work, live, and interact with friends and family, causing many to feel additional stress and anxiety in already uncertain times. (Tower Health)

July 25, 2020

Schools set in-person teaching rules as pandemic spreads
Pennsylvania school districts that have not settled on how and when they will restart instruction this fall will make decisions in coming weeks. Pandemic plans produced so far are all over the map. (Associated Press)

Teachers seize the moment as parent demand fuels market for private tutors
Kim Cipolla (left) and Leigh Anne McCormack started a tutoring business together since the pandemic has made school virtual. (Photo by Kimberly Paynter for PA Post, used under agreement)

Teachers seize the moment as parent demand fuels market for private tutors
Requests for long-term tutoring services have exploded on social media across the country in recent weeks. Anxious middle and upper-class parents are banding together to create substitute classrooms for days children are out of school. (PA Post)

Pennsylvania sees another day of more than 1,000 infections
Pennsylvania produced another day of more than 1,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases Friday, fueled by positive tests in Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh area. (Associated Press)

Contact tracing has been a challenge for Pennsylvania throughout the pandemic. (Graphic by Dan Nott for PA Post, used under agreement)

Citing ‘overwhelming’ spread, PA moves to add staff, app to trace coronavirus
There are currently 661 contact tracers across the state. The health department wants to add potentially thousands more. (PA Post)

July 24, 2020

School openings hinge on case counts, health official warns
Every region of Pennsylvania has seen an increase in the rate of positive coronavirus cases. Failing to stop that could jeopardize reopening schools, the state’s top health official said Thursday. (Associated Press)

School districts struggle with wording of reopening guidance from Harrisburg
The wording in the guidance from Harrisburg on reopening schools is causing some serious headaches as districts try to balance the safety of students with the needs of education. (KYW NewsRadio)

Archdiocese of Philadelphia high schools adopt hybrid learning system for fall
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Thursday it plans on adopting a hybrid learning system, which combines in-person and online instruction as high schools reopen in the fall. (Fox29-TV)

Months after shutdown, thousands still wait on unemployment compensation
A majority of claims filed between March and June have either been paid or deemed eligible. The remaining 8 percent must be reviewed manually. Tens of thousands of people are waiting. (PA Post)

July 22, 2020

Report: Area veterans home failed to protect residents from virus
Health inspectors said in a report that the 292-bed Southeastern Veterans’ Center in Spring City, where 42 residents died of COVID-19, ignored state and federal guidelines meant to control the virus. (Associated Press)

Suburban Districts Still Working on Back to School Plans
The Owen J. Roberts, Norristown, and Souderton school districts are featured in a video-only report on how and when will children learn during the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. (NBC10-TV)

Montgomery County records 297 positive coronavirus cases, 6 deaths, over seven-day period
Montgomery County officials reported 297 individuals tested positive for the coronavirus and six more people died from the virus during the seven-day period ending Tuesday. (Phoenix, Reporter, and Item)

Check out these summer flicks at Greater Philadelphia Expo Center’s new drive-in
The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks is adding a drive-in movie theater experience to provide a morsel of summer entertainment amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (KYW NewsRadio)

July 21, 2020

Pennsylvania adds more than 700 new virus cases
Pennsylvania reported 700 new coronavirus infections Monday, along with three additional deaths. Nearly a quarter of the latest virus cases came from Allegheny County. (Associated Press)

July 20, 2020

Montgomery County reveals guidelines on how its schools can safely reopen
Some of the recommendations include the role of a pandemic team or coordinator, enhanced communication and signage, and the identification of high-risk students and staff. (WFMZ-TV)

July 18, 2020

A pump bottle of hand sanitizer, and its accompanying sign, Saturday (July 18, 2020) at a retail store in Soudertown PA (Photo by The Post)

Inside one Pa. county’s effort to stay ‘hot on the trail’ of every COVID-19 case
Every morning, Montgomery County contact tracer Neil Lader opens one up on his home computer, and delves into another day of chasing down the virus. (PA Post)

Wolf announces hazard pay grants for frontline workers
Pennsylvania is dedicating $50 million of federal funding to provide hazard pay to essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf made the announcement Thursday. (KYW NewsRadio)

Restaurants to fight back; sports teams want fans in stands
PA approached 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus Friday. Restaurant, bar owners say they will fight back against state orders to further limit the number of patrons they’re allowed to serve at a time. (Associated Press)

July 15, 2020

Republicans mount new challenge to governor’s pandemic power
The Republican-led Legislature mounted another effort Tuesday to strip some emergency disaster powers from Gov. Tom Wolf in the latest partisan fight over his handling of the state’s coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press).

July 14, 2020

Hospitals not challenged amid rising cases, official says
Pennsylvania’s hospital system is not challenged at the moment by a recent rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, and the Department of Health is not considering new restrictions. (Associated Press)

July 12, 2020

Buses pose particular challenge for schools’ pandemic plans
A proposal to construct plastic barriers around school bus drivers to mitigate COVID-19 was shot down by the state Department of Transportation, one of many challenges schools face as they plan for fall. (Associated Press)

Pennsylvania extends eviction moratorium to Aug. 31
Gov. Tom Wolf has extended a statewide moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until Aug. 31, saying renters need more breathing room in the midst of the pandemic. (Associated Press)

July 11, 2020

Pennsylvania reports 1K new virus cases, 1st time since May
New confirmed coronavirus infections in Pennsylvania hit their highest one-day mark since May on Friday, with state officials blaming people who aren’t wearing masks, and on out-of-state travel. (Associated Press)

School districts race against the clock, coronavirus and Trump’s tweets to plan reopening
The nation’s school districts — including 500 in Pennsylvania — are actively deliberating how students will be instructed in the fall. Most will announce their plans in the weeks ahead. (PA Post)

Montgomery County officials to ‘strictly enforce’ coronavirus guidance for bars, restaurants
Montgomery County officials warned they will “strictly enforce” COVID-19 guidance for restaurants that are reopening, and will shut down establishments that do not comply. (Phoenix, Item and Reporter)

July 9, 2020

‘Rona Rent Blues: Need Help Staying Where You Live?

'Rona Rent Blues: Need Help Staving Off Homelessness?
This information was made available by the TriCounty Community Network of Pottstown
Click anywhere on the image to be taken to a Rent Relief Program details page

NORRISTOWN PA – A new program (above) that can provide payments of up to $750 per month in rental assistance, for low and moderate-income renters hurt financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been created in a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

It opened Monday (July 6, 2020), and is accepting applications through Sept. 30.

“More than 13,000 of our renters experience (an) extreme cost burden, with rent representing more than 50 percent of their income at any given time,” according to Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, chair of the county Board of Commissioners. “We hope to help as many people as possible, to stay safe and healthy in their homes during the pandemic, by providing much needed economic relief.”

Applicants must be county residents who have lost more than 30 percent of their income due to reduced work hours or wages, or who have become unemployed after March 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Renters who applied for Pennsylvania unemployment assistance must have done so after March 1.

Any funding awarded may be used only to cover rent incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30. The maximum monthly assistance is $750. Renters’ income before March 1 must be no more than 100 percent of the area median income, or $96,600 for a family of four.

Find more information about the program and how to apply, here, or talk with a Montgomery County Office of Community Connections representative by calling 610-278-3929.

Rent relief funding is provided by the finance agency through the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. County residents in need of emergency mortgage assistance, rather than rent, can apply to directly the finance agency, here.

Photo by the Cincy Project via Flickr, modified by The Post using a filter and used under a Creative Commons license

Wolf will officially veto GOP effort to end coronavirus emergency
The governor will veto a Republican legislative bid to end the disaster declaration he used to manage the state response to the pandemic. The political fight comes as PA sees a rise in confirmed coronavirus cases. (PA Post)

Pennsylvania holds off on new pandemic restrictions
Pittsburgh and Allegheny County reported a near-record number of new coronavirus infections Wednesday, as state health officials expressed concern but took no further action about the situation. (Associated Press)

July 8, 2020

Montgomery County begins Mask Up campaign
Montgomery County wants to drive home the message: masks save lives. County leaders launched a “Mask Up Montco” campaign, asking businesses to hang signs in windows and folks to share on social media. (FOX29-TV)

Spraygrounds a relatively safe way to cool off, experts say
With public pools closed, and reopening plans still unclear for senior centers, libraries, cinemas, and other diversions, spraygrounds are among few options residents have to get out and cool off. (PA Post)

Airborne coronavirus transmission raises new questions and worries
Airborne transmission is what made measles so wildly contagious. Can the coronavirus stay aloft in the air? (The Inquirer)

July 6, 2020

Pennsylvania summer camps hit hard by COVID-19 and visa restrictions
The Poconos have long been a haven for summer camps, drawing kids to the outdoors during precious summer months and providing a break for parents. As with so many other things, that’s not the case this year. (PA Post)

End of evictions moratorium leads to concerns of sweeping homelessness
Since mid-March, evictions have been off the table in Pennsylvania. A statewide judicial state of emergency issued by the state Supreme Court temporarily forbade landlords from evicting tenants for failure to pay rent. That expires Friday. (Reading Eagle)

July 4, 2020

The big factor holding back the U.S. economic recovery: Child care
The child-care crunch triggered by the pandemic has rapidly become a crisis for many workers and companies that is hindering the economic recovery. (The Inquirer)

Cancer immunotherapy research could aid COVID-19 vaccine development
Scientists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are using tools developed for cancer immunotherapy to help identify targets for a COVID-19 vaccine, researchers announced in a new study. (Philly Voice)

Wolf’s mask order inflames partisan fight over virus
Gov. Tom Wolf’s more expansive mask order issued as coronavirus cases rise in Pennsylvania has been met with hostility from Republicans. They object to the Democrat’s use of power or even wearing a mask. (Associated Press)

July 3, 2020

As restrictions ease, many find their workplaces and roles have changed
With lockdown restrictions eased, thousands of people are going back to work. But many are finding their workplaces and their roles have changed. (KYW Newsradio)

Pennsylvania court turns down lawmakers’ bid to end shutdown
Pennsylvania’s high court on Wednesday ruled against an effort by Republican state lawmakers to end Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic shutdown orders. (Associated Press)

July 1, 2020

Evictions could begin before Pa. rental assistance program can provide relief
The program will begin accepting applications July 6, but with the eviction moratorium set to expire a few days later, some fear the cash won’t flow fast enough. (PA Post)

Pa. launches new online tool to help people track spread of COVID-19
Pennsylvanians can now use an online tool to get a sense of how prevalent COVID-19 cases are in their community, with an early warning monitoring dashboard launched Tuesday by state health officials. (WFMZ-TV)

COVID-19 can spread without people showing symptoms. How do we prepare for that?
‘If there is COVID really anywhere in the community, then assume that anybody could be positive, with or without symptoms. This has pretty dramatic implications across the whole health care system.’

June 30, 2020

Assuming we’ll wear them awhile longer, what science says to look for in a face mask
To help you wade through a mountain of options, we’ve taken a look at the admittedly limited science available and spoken to experts to create a science-backed guide to mask shopping. (FiveThirtyEight)

Politics, fear keep some COVID-positive people from disclosing contacts. What’s the solution?
Contract tracing success relies on public cooperation, which has been hard to come by in some parts of the state. That diminishes the effectiveness of what’s considered a sound health practice. (PA Post)

Montgomery County coronavirus response fund to help nonprofits surges to $750K
A program to support local relief efforts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak raised about $750,000 through June 19 to assist Montgomery County nonprofit organizations, according to county officials. (Phoenix, Reporter and Item)

June 29, 2020

Sunday Update: State Department of Health reports 1,726 new coronavirus cases in last three days
The PA Department of Health confirmed June 28 there are 505 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 85,496. There were 600 new cases confirmed Friday and 621 Saturday.
(The Mercury)

June 27, 2020

Montgomery County records 54 new coronavirus cases, 1 death
Montgomery County officials on Friday reported more than 50 new positive cases of the coronavirus and one virus-related death. (Phoenix, Reporter and Item)

King of Prussia Mall reopens with distancing, masks
King of Prussia Mall resumed operations Friday with personal protective equipment available for shoppers and new safety protocols to help maintain social distancing. (Philly Voice)

Pennsylvania officials eye areas where COVID-19 cases rising
Pennsylvania health officials are looking closely at areas where COVID-19 infection rates and deaths are ticking back up, threatening to turn back progress against the pandemic. (Associated Press)

Health secretary defends pandemic response in nursing homes
Pennsylvania’s health secretary on Friday defended her agency’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak inside the nursing homes and personal care facilities that account for almost 70% of state fatalities. (Associated Press)

June 26, 2020

Wolf predicts COVID-19 resurgence in fall, offers hope it won’t force new closings
Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday he expects COVID-19 to surge again in Pennsylvania this fall. Preparations and lessons learned when the state was shut down may enable it avoid a repeat, he added. (PA Post)

June 25, 2020

Nursing homes continue to be hit hard by coronavirus deaths
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania now exceed 83,000, while there are 54 new reports of coronavirus-related deaths, many if not all of them who were residents of nursing homes or personal care homes. (Associated Press)

June 23, 2020

Ruling could come this week in legal standoff between Wolf, Legislature
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court could rule this week on whether Republican legislators can end Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic emergency declaration. (PA Post)

Infections exceed 82,000, as new reported deaths slow
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania now exceed 82,000, while new reports of coronavirus-related deaths have slowed significantly in the past couple days, according to Department of Health data. (Associated Press)

June 22, 2020

The pandemic has made travel much more complicated
If you’re thinking about traveling this summer, there are important changes because of the pandemic. A vacation anywhere in the country will require a lot of research and planning. (KYW Newsradio)

COVID-19 leaves the future of buffet dining in doubt
Buffet-style restaurants, like Golden Corral and Old Country Buffet, and others in casinos and hotels, are going to have to restructure themselves to survive the aftermath of the pandemic. (KYW Newsradio)

June 19, 2020

Suburban counties expect to move to ‘green’ next week
Although they have not received official word from the state, officials in Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties expect Gov. Tom Wolf to announce both counties will move to the “green” phase next week. (KYW Newsradio)

If you’ve lost your health plan in the COVID crisis, you’ve got options
More than 21 million Americans lost their jobs – and often their insurance – during the pandemic. But the clock is ticking for some of their options to replace or regain coverage. (Philly Voice)

PA to give health systems millions to lead coronavirus response inside nursing homes
These collaboratives will be tasked with implementing best practices for infection control and expanding testing “to include asymptomatic staff and residents,” a critical need. (PA Post)

Online gaming revenue in Pennsylvania continued to rise during pandemic
As the coronavirus pandemic continued in May, companies that operate online gaming in the state continued to see substantial increases according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. (Reading Eagle)

June 18, 2020

Faculty, other employees raise concerns about Penn State’s fall reopening
More than 1,000 faculty, graduate students and others are calling on Penn State administrators to give them more input in decisions related to the plans to reopen the university’s campuses this fall. (PA Post)

High court to decide lawsuit seeking end to disaster order
Pennsylvania’s highest court on Wednesday granted the Democratic governor’s request and took over a lawsuit by legislative Republicans that could end his pandemic shutdown order. (Associated Press)

June 17, 2020

Coronavirus Primer
Seen Monday (June 15, 2020) on the lawn outside Kiddie Academy of Royersford , 525 N. Lewis Rd. (Photo by The Post Publications)

Pennsylvania sees 3rd straight day of under 400 infections
Pennsylvania has recorded a third straight day of under 400 new positive coronavirus tests, according to Department of Health data Tuesday, the longest such stretch since late March. (Associated Press)

Parts of Pa. reopened without robust coronavirus contact tracing to keep residents safe
Health experts say the shortcoming is of critical concern because tracing is most needed as reopening begins, when the disease’s spread becomes more complex. (PA Post)

June 16, 2020

Montgomery County officials optimistic move to ‘green phase’ is close
Montgomery County officials said decreases in hospitalizations and positivity rates among those being tested lead them to be optimistic the county can soon move to the “green phase” of reopening. (Phoenix, Reporter and Item).

Hersheypark to reopen on July 3 as coronavirus restrictions ease
If you’re looking for plans over the July 4th weekend now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, the 121-acre Hersheypark is set to reopen on July 3, with enhanced cleaning and reservations required. (Philly Voice)

More free virus test sites opening in northern Pennsylvania
The Wolf administration said Monday that more free coronavirus drive-thru testing sites will open in Walmart parking lots across northern Pennsylvania. It seeks to expand testing where little is available. (Associated Press)

June 14, 2020

Coronavirus exploited long-standing problems with nursing home oversight
The Wolf administration was repeatedly warned of dangerously low minimum staffing and weak and inconsistent inspections, all problems that could have made the outbreak worse. (PA Post)

June 13, 2020

Week 14 of coronavirus in Montgomery County ends with three more deaths, 74 new cases
As week 14 of the coronavirus outbreak in Montgomery County came to a close on Friday, officials reported three more deaths and more than six dozen new positive cases of the virus. (Phoenix, Reporter and Item)

Wolf asks Pennsylvania Supreme Court to uphold shutdown
Gov. Tom Wolf asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday to intervene in his dispute with legislators trying to end pandemic restrictions he imposed in March to slow the coronavirus. (Associated Press)

Survey finds 30% of Americans unable to make their June housing payments
Entering the fourth month of the pandemic unemployment remains high, and millions of people are still having trouble making their monthly rent and mortgage payments. (KYW Newsradio)

Payment by Phone Expected to Rise Due to Pandemic
Public health fears may drive a rise in mobile payments, even in restaurants. Until now, demand hasn’t grown as expected. For many people, “credit cards, debit cards and cash were working just fine.” (CNN)

Federal authorities warn of another coronavirus-related scam
The IRS is once again warning of scams where people fish for personal information, and this time, they’re using COVID-19 for the data. (KYW Newsradio)

June 12, 2020

More Pennsylvania counties poised to enter ‘green’ phase
A dozen more counties, many in Central PA, are entering the least-restrictive pandemic “green” phase Friday. Gyms, hair salons, theaters and other businesses closed since March may now reopen at reduced capacity. (Associated Press)

Pa. courts may avoid definitive ruling in legal fight over governor’s emergency powers
It took less than 24 hours for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and governor to wind up in a legal fight that could have far-reaching implications for how state leaders respond to future emergencies. (PA Post)

June 10, 2020

Pa. lawmakers vote to end Wolf’s pandemic disaster declaration
A tug of war continues over PA’s pandemic response. The Republican-controlled legislature has approved a measure to end the COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration recently extended by Gov. Tom Wolf. (KYW Newsradio)

Thousands of deaths later, Pa. finally mandates universal testing in nursing homes
Three months after the coronavirus began infecting and killing nursing home residents, the Wolf administration on Monday ordered facilities to test all staff and residents once by mid-summer. (PA Post)

Pennsylvania orders hospitals to protect workers from virus
Pennsylvania hospitals will be required to replace soiled or damaged respirators on request, require universal masking, and take other steps to protect health care workers from the new coronavirus. (Associated Press)

June 9, 2020

Montgomery County ready to open some county parks
After the first weekend in the “yellow phase,” Montgomery County officials say some county parks will open soon, and they have an update on what the state wants to see before the region moves to “green.” (KYW Newsradio)

Pa. to give $225 million in grants and loans to small businesses
Small businesses in Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19, with fewer than 25 employees or $1 million in sales annually, are getting $225 million to help get them back on their feet, Gov. Tom Wolf announced. (The Inquirer)

Rush to dole out billions in coronavirus relief dollars in Pa. could lead to waste, fraud
Many rules around public accountability and transparency remain unwritten, or lack requirements for a detailed accounting of how the money was already spent. (PA Post)

June 8, 2020

All SEPTA riders now required to wear face coverings
Starting Monday, all SEPTA riders across the entire transit system will be required to wear face masks in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Philly Voice)

Citadel Country Spirit USA postponed to 2021
Chester County’s own country music festival will not return to the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds this year, with officials citing health concerns due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Phoenix, Reporter and Item)

June 7, 2020

Amish schools: ‘Distance learning’ involves paper and pencil
Local experts in Amish and Old Order Mennonite culture say most of the 250-or-so Lancaster area Amish-run schools complied with state closing orders. And, just like at many traditional schools, learning never stopped. (Associated Press)

June 5, 2020

Coronavirus testing available for more Montgomery County residents
Montgomery County officials announced Wednesday that the county has enough supplies on hand to allow anyone who wants to be tested for coronavirus to do so at its three community-based sites. (Phoenix, Reporter and Item)

Wolf will announce more counties can enter ‘green’ phase
Gov. Tom Wolf will announce Friday that more counties will be allowed to enter the “green,” and least-restrictive, phase of his pandemic reopening plan, his office said. (Associated Press)

June 4, 2020

Officials: Schools can reopen in-person teaching on July 1
Elementary and secondary schools inside Pennsylvania’s less restrictive reopening zones can resume teaching in person and other activities at the end of June, the Education Department said Wednesday. (Associated Press)

Pa. fitness clubs band together to ask Wolf to include them in ‘yellow’ reopening phase
Fitness clubs from across Pennsylvania are banding together in a concerted effort to convince Gov. Wolf to include them in the “yellow phase” of the state’s reopening process. (KYW Newsradio)

Pa. House committee hearing presents dire picture for state tourism industry
The effect of the coronavirus on the hotel industry could be nine times worse than the losses incurred in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, a state House committee heard Wednesday. (PA Post)

75 new virus deaths reported in Pennsylvania, cases pass 73K
The coronavirus has infected another 511 people to surpass 73,000 total cases in Pennsylvania, and another 75 people have died from it, the state Health Department said Wednesday. (Associated Press)

June 1, 2020

‘No question’: Wolf says Pennsylvania schools will reopen in the fall
Gov. Tom Wolf says he’s confident Pennsylvania students will return to their schools this fall. “No question,” Wolf said during a news conference, although he conceded “schools will look different.” (PA Post)

Governor to lift more pandemic restrictions in Pennsylvania
Gov. Tom Wolf will lift most of his pandemic restrictions in an additional 16 counties including much of the Pittsburgh area, his office said, as Philadelphia also began mapping its way out of the crisis. (Associated Press)

May 31, 2020

Montgomery County ‘pandemic primary’ presents challenges
It’s been dubbed the “pandemic primary” by Montgomery County officials. The road to Tuesday’s primary election include nervous poll workers, consolidated polling places, a vote-by-mail surge, mail-in ballot snafus and political sparring. (Phoenix, Reporter, and Item)

May 29, 2020

Expert: Older teacher population could impact how school is structured in the fall
The National Center for Education Statistics reports 30% of K-12 teachers in the U.S. are 65 or older. Their welfare is going to have a big impact on how schools are structured in the fall. (KYW Newsradio)

Montco commissioner says they’re seeing rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations
Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said they’re seeing a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations. (KYW Newsradio)

Pa. legislature sends $26 billion short-term budget to Gov. Tom Wolf
The Pennsylvania legislature has sent a short-term budget with no tax increases to Gov. Tom Wolf, an unusual measure made necessary by the strain put on the state’s finances by the coronavirus. (PA Post)

Flood of mail-in ballots spurs fight to change deadlines
County and state officials warn that a flood of mailed-in ballots in PA — fueled by fears of in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic — will create problems in Tuesday’s primary election. (Associated Press)

Pro sports can resume in Pennsylvania, without spectators
Professional sports can resume in Pennsylvania where the governor’s stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the coronavirus is no longer in force, but without spectators, the state said Wednesday. (Associated Press)

May 27, 2020

County prepares to reopen courts with coronavirus precautions
Montgomery County Court officials said the number one priority is safety when modified operations resume at the courthouse and other court-related facilities on June 1 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Phoenix, Item and Reporter)

Pennsylvania preps short-term budget amid virus uncertainty
Pennsylvania state government began advancing a temporary, no-new-taxes budget plan Tuesday that maintains current spending levels while budget makers watch to see how badly coronavirus-related shutdowns damage tax collections. (Associated Press)

Police, regulators target businesses flouting Wolf shutdown
Police and state regulators are cracking down on a handful of Pennsylvania businesses that are supposed to remain shut down during the pandemic but have instead thrown open their doors. (Associated Press)

May 26, 2020

Charitable runs, walks learn to adapt to crowd limits
The coronavirus pandemic has forced charities and nonprofit groups to cancel or postpone an untold number of walks and runs that raise money. They are proving, however, there’s room to evolve. (Associated Press)

With Memorial Day festivities canceled, veterans’ groups try to uphold traditions
Veterans’ groups across Pennsylvania canceled or postponed Memorial Day events this year to comply with local guidelines during the pandemic. But they’re also finding ways to uphold their traditions. (PA Post)

Adjunct professors, the ‘gig workers’ of higher-ed, fear losing livelihoods
Dire college enrollment predictions are circulating, and fewer students mean fewer classes. Fewer classes also likely means fewer adjunct professors, described as the “gig workers” of academia. (PA Post)

Will ‘pandemic insurance’ become a business norm after COVID-19?
Nobody was interested in so-called “pandemic insurance” prior to 2020. Will coronavirus lead it to become the new norm?, because insurance claims related to COVID-19 closures are likely to be denied. (Reading Eagle)

May 25, 2020

Colleges had to adapt to virtual final exams. What they learned could shape the future on campuses.
Moving final exams online, while maintaining their integrity and yet not putting undue pressure on students, was just the latest historical first for the nation’s colleges.(The Inquirer)

State: $93K sought from nursing homes amid inspections
State health officials say civil penalties totaling more than $93,000 have been assessed against nursing care facilities in PA amid hundreds of complaint investigations during the pandemic. (Associated Press)

May 22, 2020

Knoll furniture maker to cut 275 jobs
Knoll Inc., the East Greenville furniture designer and manufacturer, is cutting about 275 employees as part of its restructuring due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company said Wednesday. (WFMZ-TV)

Governor eyes lifting many more pandemic restrictions
Some PA counties could see practically all state pandemic restrictions on business activity and gatherings lifted in the coming days, other than social-distancing and health-monitoring guidelines. (Associated Press)

Some Pa. Republicans want to legalize marijuana after coronavirus blew a hole in the budget
Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are coming around — if slowly — to the idea of legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. (The Inquirer)

Nursing home testing a massive challenge for Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania must massively boost testing efforts to meet Gov. Tom Wolf’s goal of administering a weekly coronavirus test to more than 100,000 people in long-term care facilities. Health officials are scrambling. (Associated Press)

Masks, plexiglass, hand sanitizer may become new normal at casinos
Pennsylvania casinos will have a different vibe once Gov. Tom Wolf gives them the green light to reopen. Its state Gaming Control Board outlined the health protocols casinos will need to undertake. (Philly Voice)

May 21, 2020

Food pantry at Pottstown church gives out groceries to those in need
Folks who lacked all the fixin’s for a Memorial Day picnic got a special treat Wednesday in Pottstown. The food pantry at Bethel Community Church packed bags of groceries to give out to those who need them. (WFMZ-TV)

County official: ‘Still very real risk of virus transmission’
Montgomery County officials reported a dozen more deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday and reminded residents that there’s “still very real risk of virus transmission” in the community. (Phoenix, Item and Reporter)

Pennsylvania working to pave the return of sporting events
Pennsylvania is working on guidelines to allow sporting events, exhibitions and leagues, both professional and amateur, to get back to “some semblance of normalcy,” Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday. (Associated Press)

‘Desperate’ Pa. child care industry to receive $51 million lifeline
Pennsylvania officials are beginning to distribute $51 million of federal stimulus funding to the state’s child care providers, a lifeline to an industry crucial to reopening the economy. (PA Post)

In Philadelphia region, COVID-19 hit smaller nursing homes hardest
Among facilities in the five-county Philadelphia region with five or more deaths, the average infection rate was 44%, meaning nearly half of all residents tested positive for the virus. (PA Post)

May 20, 2020

Positive trend of fewer deaths continues in Montgomery County
Montgomery County officials reported seven more deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday and announced there is a new testing opportunity available in the Lansdale area. (Phoenix, Item and Reporter)

Drive-thru coronavirus testing site to open in Pottstown
A new, drive-thru coronavirus testing site is opening Thursday in Pottstown. Patient First will begin testing by appointment at its location on Shoemaker Road. (WFMZ-TV)

Rebate checks may arrive earlier for some Pennsylvania homeowners and renters
Pennsylvania homeowners and renters who are elderly or have disabilities may get a state rebate check earlier than expected, officials announced Tuesday. (PA Post)

Real estate business activity to resume across Pennsylvania
Real estate sales and related activity can resume across Pennsylvania if guidelines designed to limit infection are followed, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday. Masks or other facial coverings are a must. (Associated Press)

Wolf discourages Pennsylvania residents from holiday visits to beaches
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is discouraging residents from heading to the beach for the holiday weekend because of the to the coronavirus outbreak. His comments echoed those by Philadelphia officials. (Philly Voice)

May 19, 2020

Pa. extends benefits window for unemployment compensation
A program adding 13 weeks to the time PA residents can collect unemployment benefits launched over the weekend, allowing people whose benefits are running out soon to continue receiving them. (PA Post)

NASCAR’s Pocono races might be run without fans
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says NASCAR can hold its races at Pocono Raceway in late June if the coronavirus situation improves in the area, though the races might have to go off without fans. (Associated Press)

County commissioners clash at briefing over coronavirus protections
Montgomery County commissioners clashed when the Republican board member accused the Democratic chairwoman of taking a “cheap shot” in expressing concerns about a ceremony he attended without wearing a face mask. (The Phoenix, News, and Item)

PA enlists PEMA, National Guard to slow COVID-19 spread in long-term care facilities
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard are introducing mobile virus testing units in long-term care homes, to provide relief for staff as well as equipment training. (PA Post)

May 18, 2020

Pa. distributes more doses of COVID-19 treatment to hospitals
More than 9,000 doses of the experimental drug remdesivir are being distributed to hospitals across Pennsylvania to treat COVID-19 infections. (PA Post)

A Guide to Staying Fit during the Pandemic
The lockdown is, for many of us, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. As we look toward a phased reopening over the coming months, developing new exercise routines is vital for our health and wellness. (Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation Blog)

Museum of the American Revolution offers online Memorial Day programming
The Museum of the American Revolution invites the public to pay tribute, virtually, to the men and women who lost their lives in service to our country on Memorial Day weekend. (KYW Newsradio)

Uber requiring drivers and riders to wear masks starting Monday
Uber will require all drivers and riders to wear masks starting Monday, as part of a series of measures to protect customers and employees from contracting the coronavirus. (The Inquirer)

May 16, 2020

Limerick supervisors hold in-person meeting, most members wear no masks
A May 12 supervisors’ meeting was held at the Ridge Pike township building, but despite Centers for Disease Control recommendations for public gatherings only one supervisor wore a mask. (The Mercury)

Community colleges expect to see increase in enrollment due to pandemic
Because of the pandemic, more students are expected to attend community college. But some of the reasons for the increase in community college enrollment aren’t as obvious as people might think. (KYW Newsradio)

Pandemic restrictions to ease in 12 Pennsylvania counties
Another 2.6 million people across western Pennsylvania began to emerge from pandemic restrictions Friday as Gov. Tom Wolf announced that 12 more counties soon will join them in a partial easing. (Associated Press)

May 15, 2020

Pa.’s largest nurses’ union accuses hospitals of misinforming state officials about protective equipment
The state’s largest nurses’ union says health-care workers don’t have essential face masks, access to testing, and other safety measures, even as hospitals push to restart elective procedures. (PA Post)

Pa. auditor general looking into Pennsylvania’s business waiver process during pandemic
Pennsylvania’s state auditor general is looking into complaints regarding the state’s waiver process that determines what essential businesses could stay open during the coronavirus pandemic. (KYW Newsradio)

Trump says he’ll replenish stockpile for future pandemics
President Donald Trump,during a Thursday visit to Allentown, says he intends to prepare for future pandemics by replenishing the national stockpile and bringing critical supplies manufacturers back to the U.S. (Associated Press)

May 14, 2020

Pennsburg votes to defy Wolf’s order, allowing businesses to reopen
Pennsburg Mayor Vickie Lightcap says the borough is working on an ordinance that “will allow our businesses to open under CDC guidelines and get back to some sort of normalcy up here in Pennsburg.” (KYW Newsradio)

Montco reports 14 more coronavirus deaths, 106 new positive cases
Montgomery County officials reported 14 more deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday and provided new statistics that showed many in middle and younger age brackets are testing positive for the virus. (The Phoenix, News, and Item)

Pennsylvania AG opens criminal probes into nursing homes
Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor has opened criminal investigations into several nursing homes amid a coronavirus outbreak that has killed 2,600 residents of nursing homes and other facilities. (Associated Press)

Area businesses say federal ‘Payroll Protection’ loans put them ‘at risk’
Southeastern PA business owners say federal Payroll Protection Program funds won’t cover their most urgent costs and the timeline for spending the money is unrealistic. (PA Post)

‘A pressure cooker’: Pa. governor aims to contain GOP revolt
The Democrat at the helm in one of the premier battlegrounds in November’s presidential election is struggling to fight a Republican revolt over his stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns. (Associated Press)

May 12, 2020

Montgomery County elections board votes to adopt ‘pandemic election plan’ for primary
Montgomery County’s elections board has voted to adopt its “pandemic election plan” for the primary, which significantly cuts the number of polling places in the county from 352 to 140. (KYW Newsradio)

Montgomery County commissioner tests positive for coronavirus
Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence said during a news briefing that he tested positive for coronavirus. Lawrence, who said he is asymptomatic, was tested in Pottstown Saturday. (WFMZ-TV)

Students expected to return to school in fall, ed chief says
The state education secretary told lawmakers Monday he expects students to go back to school in the fall. He anticipates providing guidance in coming weeks to prepare teachers and staff to return. (PA Post)

Wolf: ‘Cowardly’ counties ‘choosing to desert’ virus fight
Gov. Tom Wolf attacked local elected officials making plans to reopen in defiance of his shutdown orders as cowards deserting the pandemic battlefield. He threatened Monday to block aid to rebellious counties. (Associated Press)