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Thursday, September 24, 2020

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Local News

Allegheny County Lifts Coronavirus Orders

The Allegheny County Health Department announced Thursday its stricter COVID-19 orders have been lifted, effective immediately.  Instead, Allegheny County will abide by the limitations set by the state – which were less restrictive in terms of gathering limits. The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s orders related to mask-wearing, mandatory telework, worker safety, building safety and hospital safety all remain in place. Officials said business occupancy restrictions “applicable to personal care service, indoor recreation and health and wellness facilities, entertainment venues, and bars and restaurants are also in effect.” The previous gathering limits in Allegheny County – indoors of 25 or less people and outdoors of 100 – are being lifted in favor of the state guidelines, which allow for 250 people outside.

COVID -19 Infections Top 153,000 In Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Thursday that there were 853 additional positive cases of COVID-19 added, bringing the statewide total to 153,397.  County-specific information and a statewide map are available here.  There are 8,079 otal deaths attributed to COVID-19, reflecting an increase of 17 new deaths.  In nursing and personal care homes, there are 22,498 resident cases of COVID-19, and 4,936 cases among employees, for a total of 27,434 at 969 distinct facilities in 61 counties. Out of our total deaths, 5,397 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.  A county breakdown can be found here.     Approximately 10,513  of our total cases are among health care workers.  Washington County added one new infection for a total of 1,311 cases of COVID-19.  The county death toll remains at 29.  Allegheny County added 60 new cases for a total of 11,927 and no new deaths for a total of 354 fatalities.  Greene County added three new cases for a total of 182.  Deaths remain at one.  Across the United States, COVID-19 cases have surpassed six-point-eight-million and more than two-hundred-and two-thousand people have died.  Mask wearing is MANDATORY in all businesses until further notice and residents are REQUIRED to wear a facial covering in public places.  Employees of those businesses are REQUIRED to wear a mask as well.

Parents Of Baby Who Died Of Drug Overdose Arrested

BALDWIN, Pa. (AP) – The parents of a 1-year-old child who authorities say died of a drug overdose have been charged with homicide. Tracy Humphreys and Thomas Snelsire, both 45, also face numerous drug counts in the death of Thomas Humphreys. His body was found Sept. 13 in the family’s home. Investigators noted that the boy had likely been dead “for a long period of time” before authorities were alerted. It wasn’t clear Thursday if either parent was in custody or had retained an attorney. The infant’s body was found about a month after a county child welfare caseworker had inspected the home and didn’t see “illegal drugs or inappropriate conditions.”  (Photo:  WPXI) 

Man Hit By Train Flown To Pittsburgh Hospital

WASHINGTON, Pa. — A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital after being hit by a train in Washington Wednesday afternoon. Washington police said the man was struck behind the Chestnut Veterinary Clinic off of West Chestnut Street about 2:30 p.m. Authorities say the man had been identified, but his name was not released pending notification of the victim’s next of kin. Police say the man was conscious when crews arrived, but he was in serious condition and needed immediate attention. He was flown to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. There is no update on the man’s current condition or identity at this time.

Protesters Take To Streets Of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (WPXI) — Protests are happening across the country after officials announced no officers will be charged in connection with the death of Breonna Taylor. Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13. Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired from the police department in June, was charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for shooting into Taylor’s apartment from outside, endangering the lives of three people in the apartment next door. The grand jury determined that two other officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were justified in the shooting. Protesters used social media to organize and gather at Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in response to the news. Protesters began marching around 8:30 p.m., chanting through the streets down toward PPG Paints Arena. The protest, which began at 7 p.m., is a collective effort from community leaders. The crowd of protesters continued to march for more than an hour, going from Freedom Corner into Downtown Pittsburgh. Organizers spent a long time talking to those in attendance, and a mental health expert talked to them as well before they began marching. She explained how important it is for activists to take the necessary time they need to make sure they are properly processing all of what is going on. As of 11 p.m., Pittsburgh Public Safety said the main group of protesters was at Ross Street sitting on the ground, while some had already dispersed.

Two Arrested After Washington Drug Raid

WASHINGTON, Pa. — A home raid earlier this week in Washington led to charges against known drug dealers from Chicago. According to Washington County detectives have arrested Terrell Jones, 35 Tommie Holmes, 37 after a search of a home on West Spruce Street Wednesday. The duo was also charged with dealing drugs back in July. Cocaine, marijuana and cash were found in the house after the search. Both men face charges of illegal possession of a firearm, drug possession with intent to deliver and possession. The suspects are in the Washington County Jail, and face a preliminary hearing with judge Michael Manfredi in October.

One Dead, Two Shot In Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (WPXI) — A man was found dead from an apparent homicide in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, and now police are investigating. According to a release, officers were alerted about shots fired around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday in the 7100 block of Frankstown Avenue. When they got to the scene, they found the victim. That man, who has not yet been identified by police, was pronounced dead at the scene. It’s unclear what led to the deadly incident, and police have not provided any information regarding a suspected killer. Police later said another victim was found from the shooting — a man who had non-life-threatening injuries to his lower body. Officers found a third victim at the Penn Hills Giant Eagle, and that man was taken to the hospital in stable condition. Anyone with information is asked to call police, and local residents were told to avoid the area.

Chamber Hosts “Pittsburgh Works Together”

The Washington County Chamber of Commerce welcomed the Pittsburgh Works Together cooperative venture.  Executive Director Jeff Nobers spoke of the companies and trade organizations involved to advance the conversation about industry in our area and how to move the economy forward. K. Scott Roy of Range Resources and Thomas Melcher of the Pittsburgh Regional Building and Construction Trades Council brought their insight into how the organization can benefit the region. Roy complimented the region calling people in the area “problem solvers”. Melcher spoke of how trades are vital to the area to both companies and residents and described the overwhelming support his organization receives when trying to recruit high school students to the trade industries. Nobers spoke on how the organization tries to conduct real and balanced conversations about business, trades and environment, and come to productive conclusions instead of waging a battle of sound bites in the media between organizations. Nobers states that Pittsburgh Works Together is committed to a future that includes everybody – from blue-collar manufacturing to research and high-tech.

World News

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Patriots Owner

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will not face trial on charges he paid for massage parlor sex. Florida prosecutors announced Thursday that they are dropping a misdemeanor charge against Kraft after a court blocked their use of video that allegedly shows him paying for sex at the Orchids of Asia spa in early 2019. A court ruled last month that the video cameras police secretly installed in the spa violated the customers’ right to privacy. Kraft could still face a suspension from the National Football League.

Six States Take Action Against U.S. Postal Service

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Officials from six states and the District of Columbia have asked a federal judge to halt what they say are slowdowns at the U.S. Postal Service that threaten the upcoming presidential election. They argued Thursday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia that on-time delivery dropped sharply in July and has not fully rebounded as the nation battles a pandemic and prepares for an election that could hinge on mail-in ballots. Judges in Washington state and New York issued emergency orders this month in similar cases. The states involved in Thursday’s hearing are Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Dismay Over Breonna Taylor Spills Into America’s Streets

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Anger, frustration and sadness over the decision not to charge Kentucky police officers for Breonna Taylor’s death has poured into America’s streets. Protesters lashed out at a criminal justice system they say is stacked against Black people. Violence seized the demonstrations in Taylor’s hometown of Louisville as gunfire rang out Wednesday night and wounded two police officers. Activists, celebrities and everyday Americans have been calling for charges since Taylor was shot multiple times by white officers who entered her home during a narcotics investigation in March. While the officers had a no-knock warrant, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron says the investigation shows they announced themselves before entering. One officer was charged with wanton endangerment.

Long Lines Attend Ginsburg Memorial Services

WASHINGTON (AP) – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was remembered Wednesday at the court in front of grieving family, colleagues and friends as a prophet for justice who persevered against long odds to become an American icon. Meanwhile, crowds grew outside waiting for a chance to pay their respects. In the court’s Great Hall, the eight justices were masked along with everyone else because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were gathering for the first time in more than six months for the ceremony to mark Ginsburg’s death from cancer last week at age 87. She served for 27 years on the court, becoming know to admirers as “The Notorious RBG.”

President Doesn’t Commit To Peaceful Transfer If He Loses

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is declining to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump told reporters Wednesday he would “have to see what happens” when asked about the matter. Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, responded by asking, “What country are we in?” It is highly unusual that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process. But he also declined four years ago to commit to honoring the election results if his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, won.

U.S. Unemployment Ticks Up Due To Pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid rose slightly last week to 870,000, a historically high figure that shows that the viral pandemic is still squeezing restaurants, airlines, hotels and many other businesses six months after it first erupted. The figure coincides with evidence that some newly laid-off Americans are facing delays in receiving unemployment benefits as state agencies intensify efforts to combat fraudulent applications and clear their pipelines of a backlog of jobless claims.

Drug Companies Working Together On COVID Vaccine

LONDON (AP) – Top officials of two firms developing COVID-19 vaccines say pharmaceutical companies are working together to see how much information they can release to the public about their testing regimes as drugmakers and public health officials try to boost confidence that any vaccine approved by regulators will be safe to use. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot and Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson, said Thursday during a panel discussion sponsored by the World Economic Forum that they recognize the coronavirus emergency demands increased transparency from vaccine developers to ensure the public has faith in the end product. But they stressed that there are limits to this transparency because they must protect patient confidentiality.

UN Leaders Pleading For COVID Vaccine For All

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Many world leaders at this week’s virtual U.N. summit are pleading for a COVID-19 vaccine to be made available and affordable to all. But with the U.S., China and Russia opting out of a collaborative effort to develop and distribute a vaccine, the speeches are likely in vain. More than 150 countries have joined COVAX, in which richer countries buy into potential vaccines and help finance access for poorer ones. But the absence of Washington, Beijing and Moscow means the response is short of truly being global. Kazakhstan’s leader says, “We must take the politics out of the vaccine.”

Smoke From Forest Fires Tainting Vineyards

TURNER, Ore. (AP) – Smoke from the West Coast wildfires has tainted grapes in some of the nation’s most celebrated wine regions. The resulting ashy flavor could spell disaster for the 2020 vintage. The smoke from this year’s blazes has been especially bad – thick enough to obscure vineyards drooping with clusters of grapes almost ready for harvest. Growers are trying to assess the extent of the smoke damage in California, Oregon and Washington. John Aguirre is president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. He says the fires will be the single worst disaster the wine-grape growing community has ever faced.

Times Square Will Look Much Different On New Years Eve

NEW YORK (AP) – Remember how people pack themselves into Times Square to see the ball drop to mark the end of one year and the start of another? Forget it – at least for this year. Officials in New York City say they are making plans for the annual event – but they won’t include crowds, because of the coronavirus. Instead, officials are planning what they call a socially-distant virtual experience – with only a few people to be honored in person. The organization that puts together the annual event says it will honor essential workers and others who have made a difference this year.