Coronavirus News & Updates




The latest on the COVID-19 pandemic on the local front, including news & cancellations.

Updated: 7/3/2020


Washington County On “Mitigation Watch List”

Coronavirus numbers are climbing in Washington County and that concerns Washington County Commission Chairperson Diana Irey-Vaughan.  Irey-Vaughan tells WJPA News that she spoke with Governor Tom Wolf’s office on Thursday and was informed that the county has been placed on a mitigation watch list because of the alarming daily increases in COVID-19 cases.  Irey-Vaughan says the Governor has noticed the uptick and there is a danger that the county could be forced to shut down again if the trend continues.  Irey-Vaughan is urging every resident to be extremely diligent when going out, especially with the July 4th holiday weekend coming up.  Irey-Vaughan is reminding everyone to “mask-up” and practice social distancing.

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Another cancellation to add to the list. The Washington-Greene County Covered Bridge Festival, scheduled for September has been cancelled.
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Masks Now Mandatory In Public Places In Pennsylvania.

Masks must now be worn whenever anyone leaves home, according to a new order signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday that the order takes effect immediately. “This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing – two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.” The order outlines the situations when a mask must be worn and includes limited exceptions to the face-covering requirement. The mask-wearing order will be sent to state and local officials, law enforcement and others tasked with education about the order for those not in compliance.

According to the order, Face coverings are required if you are:

  • Outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from individuals who are not a member of your household.In any indoor location where members of the public are generally permitted.
  • Waiting for, riding on, driving, or operating public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing service.
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic or blood bank.
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public, working in any space visited by members of the public, working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others, working in or walking through common areas, or in any room or enclosed area where other people, expect for members of the person’s own household or residence, are present when unable to physically distance.

Here are the exceptions to the face mask requirement, according to the order:

  • Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition, including those with respiratory issues that impede breathing, mental health condition or disability.
  • Individuals for whom wearing a mask while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines
  • Individuals who would be unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Individuals who are under two years of age
  • Individuals who are communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

The order says individuals are not required to show documentation that an exception applies.

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View the latest on the coronavirus on Washington County’s website, here.

Washington Schools To Use Color-Coded System. The return to the classroom in the fall will not be an easy task for schools all over the country due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Washington school district superintendent, James Konrad said that the district will follow government guidelines, all based on the Green-Yellow-Red format. Green will be a normal setting, yellow will be a 50/50 hybrid with students splitting time in the classroom, and red will be an all-online system. Konrad explained that everyone needs to be realistic and understand that it is a work in progress as more data is gathered. There will be town hall meetings in July and August for parents and students wanting more information.
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From WJPA News: Washington County COVID-19 Cases Climbing. The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Sunday that there are 505 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 85,496.  There are 6,606 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 3 new deaths.  County-specific information and a statewide map are available here.     In nursing and personal care homes, there are 17,677 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,212 cases among employees, for a total of 20,889 at 687 distinct facilities in 51 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,528 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.  A county breakdown can be found here.  Approximately 6,484 of our total cases are in health care workers.  A county breakdown can be found here.  Washington County added 14 new cases for a total of 211.  The county remains steady at six deaths.  Greene County’s numbers continue to climb as well.  Four additional cases were added for a total of 39.  Across the United States, more than two-million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded and more than one-hundred and twenty-five-thousand people have died.  Washington County is now in the “green phase” of Governor Tom Wolf’s reopening plan.  The stay at home order is lifted but groups are limited to no more than 250 people.  Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Levine remind residents that mask wearing is required in all businesses in yellow and green phases of reopening.  Employees of those businesses are required to wear a mask as well. Gov. Wolf and Secretary Levine said people do not need the N95 respirator masks or surgical masks. A simple cloth mask or even a bandanna across your nose and mouth can work to help protect people from each other. The Department of Health posted guidance on masks on its website.

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From CNN: The 3 most populous states are breaking coronavirus records, leading to fears of ‘apocalyptic’ surges. The three most populous states set records for new coronavirus cases daily and there are fears of “apocalyptic” surges in major Texas cities if the trend continues. Coronavirus has killed at least 121,979 people and infected nearly 2.4 million nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins. Florida and Texas announced Wednesday that they’d recorded more than 5,000 new Covid-19 cases the prior day, a new daily record. California reported more than 7,000 cases, obliterating a record hit a day earlier. In Texas, if the current case trajectory continues, Houston could be the hardest-hit city in the US with numbers rivaling those in Brazil. Infection numbers are also rising in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. Models show that Houston could have a four-fold increase in the number of daily cases by July 4, he said, adding that states need to act to stop community transmission. “That is really worrisome and as those numbers rise, we’re seeing commensurate increases in the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions,” he said. “You get to the point where you overwhelm ICUs and that’s when the mortality goes up.” Hotez is also a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology, and is working on a potential Covid-19 vaccine.
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Coronavirus Forces Slow Down In Natural Gas Industry. The once-booming natural gas industry in Western Pennsylvania has taken yet another hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before coronavirus shuttered the U.S. economy, natural gas prices were already on the decline due to the “warm winter” the country experienced according to Attorney Joseph Morascyzk, who represents natural gas royalty landowners. Morascyzk spoke to the W&J College Center for Energy Policy and Management Tuesday morning via Zoom. The attorney says the gas market was flooded recently due to the production of Permian Shale in Texas, and it was a perfect storm to cause issues in the industry. Because the need and demand for natural gas has lowered globally, wells have been capped, budgets were slashed and royalty checks for landowners in the area have been diminishing. Morascyzk says COVID-19 put drilling on a pause, as only 22 rigs are active in the state (down from 47 at this time in 2015.) Morascyzk believes that things will get better for landowners and the industry as a whole when demand goes back up within the next year and a half.

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North Strabane Moving To Normal. North Strabane Township Supervisors took measures to return the township back to its normal operation. This month they returned to their normal meeting schedule. Supervisors passed a measure to end the township’s declaration of emergency that it invoked due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The declaration will end on Friday. Supervisors also approved the return of the final 14 township employees furloughed because of the pandemic. Everyone will return by the end of June. An ordinance to fine residents that abuse the 9-1-1 emergency call system was also enacted. Township emergency responders have been called out numerous times over the last year not for emergency calls but to help residents find lost belongings or open difficult windows. Finally, supervisors also agreed to continue with a modified Community Day Celebration. Instead of what residents normally experience with Community Day, they will be invited to attend a Food Trucks and Fireworks celebration. Residents will register for tickets for a car load of people. Attendance will be limited, and all CDC and Department of Health regulations will be observed. The event will take place on August 1.

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From WJPA News: Washington County Fair Cancelled – It’s now official;  there will be no Washington County Agricultural Fair in 2020.  The board made the decision Thursday.  In a post on its Facebook page, President Todd Richards said “This decision was not made lightly but consi
dering the Covid-19 pandemic concerns and the safety of our many stakeholders we believe it is the right decision.”  Last week, the board  announced that it wanted more time to make its decision.  Both the Greene County and West Alexander fairs announced last week that they were cancelling for 2020.  The fair board did vote and approve a resolution to preserve the Junior Livestock Market Competition.  A committee will be formed and will immediately begin to work on a plan to conduct the competition during the fair dates of August 15 to 22nd.  Detailed competition plans will be announced as soon as they are complete.