Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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Local News

Biden Taps Levine As Assistant Secretary Of Health

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide. She won past confirmation by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate and has emerged as the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.” A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She’s written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.

Search Continues After High-Speed Chase & Crash

WASHINGTON, CO.  (WPXI) – Police are actively searching for a man accused of leading police on a chase on Interstate 70 that ended in a crash at Bentleyville. The search started just before 5 p.m. and is still ongoing. State troopers have not released the name of the suspect but tell our news partners at Channel 11 people in the area need to be on alert. A burglary was also reported in the area. The burglar was encountered by the homeowner and then fled on foot, police said. The suspect is described as a white man, about 5 feet, 2 inches tall and is believed to be wearing a gray T-shirt and jeans. There was no report of any weapons. State police said they believe that incident is connected to the chase.

Task Force Calls For Ban Of Indoor Dining Again

The White House COVID-19 Task Force is recommending that Pennsylvania ban indoor dining for the fourth time. In a report issued last week, there is a list of recommended additional mitigation measures for Pennsylvania to help slow the spread of COVID-19. That included extending the indoor dining ban until at least Jan. 25. The state lifted the ban on Jan. 4, after a three-week shutdown during the holiday. Restaurant owners told Channel 11 they are still playing catch-up after that tremendous blow and trying to make enough to pay the bills, as well as staff. Channel 11 asked an infectious disease doctor with UPMC why the task force could’ve made the recommendation. “My guess is Pennsylvania has really been behind in terms of vaccination of the general public a number of other states have started vaccinating people over 65 years old, so I think the only people coming into restaurants have not started the immunization process,” said Dr. Dave Weber. Dr. Weber went on to say that the COVID-19 surge is worse than what we saw over the summer, but with proper restrictions, he says indoor dining can be done safely.

COVID-19 Numbers May Be Leveling Off In SWPA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Tuesday that over the past twenty-four-hours they have added 5,341 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 777,186. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here.  Over the same period of time, there were 77 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 19,467.  In nursing and personal care homes, there are 59,995 resident cases of COVID-19, and 11,204 cases among employees, for a total of 71,199 at 1,521 distinct facilities in all 67 counties. Out of our total deaths, 10,041 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.  Approximately 21,569 of our total cases are among health care workers.  Washington County added 108  new infections for a total of 11,556 cases of COVID-19. The county’s death toll rose by one for a total of 172.  Allegheny County added 434 new cases for a total of 65,114 infections. The county recorded no new deaths, leaving their death toll at 1,225.  Greene County added 30 new coronavirus cases for a total of 2,223.  The county’s death toll  remains at 26.  Across the United States, COVID-19 cases have now surpassed twenty-four-million and more than three-hundred-and-ninety-nine-thousand people have died. The state has issued a “Stay-At-Home Advisory” until further notice and mask wearing is REQUIRED in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Woman Accused Of Theft From Pelosi’s Office Arrested

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – FBI authorities have arrested a woman in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol after an accusation from a former romantic partner that she took a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A Justice Department official says Riley June Williams was arrested Monday. The FBI said in an arrest warrant Sunday that Williams is charged with illegally entering the Capitol and disorderly conduct. FBI officials said a caller claiming to be a former romantic partner of Williams said friends showed him a video of her taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Pelosi’s office. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed Jan. 8 that a laptop “only used for presentations” was taken from a conference room. Court documents don’t list an attorney for Williams.

World News

Inauguration Rehearsal Evacuated After Fire

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. Capitol complex temporarily locked down during a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment roughly a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns. But law enforcement officials say there was no threat to the public and that Monday’s fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. Local firefighters put out the blaze quickly. Meanwhile, the Secret Service has issued a bulletin about what it sees as an “uptick” in National Guard troops in Washington posting pictures and details of their operations online. It is urging them to stop immediately.

Yellen Urges Congress To Do More To Fight Pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) – Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen is calling on Congress to do more to fight a deep pandemic-induced recession. In testimony prepared for her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Yellen says the threats of a longer and even worse downturn are too great to cut back on support now. She says that without further action, the U.S. risks a longer, more painful recession now and long-term scarring of the economy later. Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department. She was the nation’s first female chair of the Federal Reserve.

California Becomes First To Top 3 Million Virus Cases

LOS ANGELES (AP) – California has become the first state to record more than 3 million known coronavirus infections. That’s according to a tally Monday by Johns Hopkins University. The grim milestone wasn’t entirely unexpected in a state with 40 million residents but its speed was stunning. The state only reached 2 million reported cases on Dec. 24. Its count far outpaces other large states, such as Texas. California also has seen more than 33,600 deaths due to COVID-19. A caseload surge that began last fall has strained hospitals. Officials warn that a recent slight downward trend could reverse when the full impact of holiday gathering transmissions is felt.

Toledo Police Officer Killed In Standoff

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) –  An Ohio police officer and a suspect are dead after an hours-long armed standoff ended in gunfire. Authorities say 24-year-old Toledo Police Officer Brandon Stalker was shot and killed Monday when 27-year-old Christopher Harris emerged from a home with “a firearm in both hands and fired shots in multiple directions.” Police say multiple officers returned fire and shot Harris. Both men were pronounced dead at a hospital. Police Chief George Kral says the standoff started about 4 p.m., when officers noticed a man with warrants out for his arrest in connection to cathedral vandalism smoking outside a home in a residential neighborhood. Officers approached the man, who fled brandishing a firearm and entered a nearby home.

Biden To Propose 8-Year Citizenship Path

WASHINGTON (AP) – President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration. It would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status, according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the legislation. It’s a massive reversal from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies. The legislation puts Biden on track to deliver on a major campaign promise after four years of President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies. But it does not include beefed-up border security, which makes passage in Congress in doubt. It is set to be introduced after Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday.

Mega Millions & Powerball Jackpots Above $700 Million

Middletown, PA The Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots now offer a combined total of almost $1.6 billion. This is the first time ever that Powerball and Mega Millions simultaneously have advertised jackpots above $700 million. This is the highest combined jackpot total for Mega Millions and Powerball, surpassing the all-time record of $1.537 billion set in October 2018 when the Mega Millions jackpot hit.  Drawn Tuesday night, the Mega Millions jackpot offers an annuity value of $865 million, with an estimated cash value of $638.8 million. If won, it would be the second largest jackpot in Mega Millions history and the third largest in U.S. lottery history. The last Mega Millions jackpot of $120 million ($95.4 million cash) was won on September 15, 2020.  If there is no Mega Millions jackpot winner in the January 19 drawing, the estimated jackpot for the Friday, January 22 drawing will be $970 million with an estimated cash value of $716.3 million.  The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing is an estimated $730 million, with an estimated cash value of $546 million. If won, this would be the fourth largest jackpot in Powerball game history and sixth largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history. This is the highest the Powerball jackpot has been since March 2019.