Bethlehem Press

Monday, July 13, 2020

COMMUNITY UPDATE

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 by The Press in Local News

BETHLEHEM

NIHM: The National Museum of Industrial History opened its doors to visitors June 26 with increased safety measures following over three months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Operating on a limited schedule, the museum will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday until further notice.

The museum has implemented a comprehensive policy to ensure the safety of patrons, employees, volunteers, and artifacts during the reopening phase. The new measures follow local, state, and national regulations and best practices and will allow the museum to offer an educational and enjoyable experience while maintaining vigilance. In accordance with Pennsylvania guidelines, the museum will operate at a 50 percent capacity until further notice and utilize a timed ticketing system, to allow for controlled entry to the museum with minimal person-to-person interaction. Tickets for the museum can be purchased on the museum’s website at nmih.org.

YMCA: They reopened facilities June 26, and please be assured that your safety - and the safety of all members, program participants, staff and volunteers - is the number one priority. They are following CDC guidelines ensuring the facilities meet the highest standards for hygiene and safety, and they have modified our policies and programs to facilitate safe physical/social distancing practices. Thank you for your help in keeping the facilities clean and safe for all.

They will be reopening programs and services in three Phases, starting with Reopening Phase I. More information on these phases can be found on the Greater Valley Y website, and are further explained in a Welcome Back Video.

HANOVER TOWNSHIP

GREEN PHASE: The county and township entered the green phase June 26. They are not back to “normal.” There are still limitations placed on numerous activities during this phase. They will continue to be diligent in our response and activities.

Continue to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advice. Refer to the guidance issued by the Governor’s office.

TOWNSHIP PARKS: Open and in a “Use at Your Own Risk” state. This will include basketball and tennis courts. No drinking water at this time.

TOWNSHIP OFFICE: Access by appointment only to eliminate congestion in the lobby and to protect staff and visitors.

COMMUNITY CENTER: Remains closed; expected to reopen with limited access and activities on or about July 7. Future appointments required to use the fitness room within a specific time frame and limit. Signed waivers will be required for access.

FIELD RENTALS: They expect to begin field rentals on or about Aug. 3. Waivers will be required for use.

DOG PARK: Open – No drinking water at this time.

OTHER ITEMS: Specific question? Email hanover@hanovertwp-nc.org or call 610.866.1140 and leave a message. Staff extensions: Township Secretary: 223; Township Treasurer: 235; Zoning Officer: 226; Waste & Sewer Billing: 231; Public Works Director: 227; Public Works Department: 224 and Township Manager: 222; the Community Center phone number is 610.317.8701.

LEHIGH COUNTY

EMERGENCY FUNDING: Lehigh County will distribute $33.3 million in emergency relief funding from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development to local small businesses, community agencies, local governments and others affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic and resulting closure.

Preliminary funding plans for Lehigh County’s COVID-19 County Block Grant include:

· $10 million for affected local businesses

· $10 million for emergency response expenses and municipalities

· $6 million for human services

· $5 million for nonprofits

· $2.3 million for regional organizations and tourism industry

A steering committee will oversee the distribution of Covid-19 block grant funding. The committee will be chaired by Lehigh County’s Community and Economic Director, Frank Kane. Other committee members include Lehigh County Commissioner Bob Elbich, Director of Human Services Kay Achenbach, George Samuelson from Lehigh County’s Fiscal Office, Carmen Bell of the United Way of the Lehigh Valley and Bill Erdman of Keystone Engineers.

Lehigh County will work with Northampton County to find regional funding solutions for the many entities that span both counties.

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY

GRACEDALE TESTING: Gracedale Nursing Home has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Guard for assistance with testing all residents and staff for COVID-19. Testing residents and staff at long-term care facilities was mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health via PA-HAN-509. The National Guard sent 13 of their members and six nurses from the Department of Health to Gracedale June 26, 27 and 28. Tents were set up in the parking lot on Friday for testing staff members. Staff was paid for their time and issued ‘dress down’ tickets. Residents and on-site staff were tested June 27 and 28. The tests will be processed by the Bureau of Labs.

EMERGENCY CENTER: As Northampton County moves to the “Green” phase, Emergency Management Services has changed the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from Level II to Level III. (Level IV is normal operations). EMS will continue situational awareness and planning for the COVID-19 outbreak, but with a smaller operational footprint then it employed at Level II.

EMS will continue to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Northeast Taskforce to create and maintain stockpiles of PPE for responders in the event of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

CORONER REPORT: As of June 19, data collected by the Northampton County Coroner shows that 244 people have passed away due to Covid-19 in Northampton County (218 Northampton County residents, 26 residents of other counties and states). As of May 21, the Lehigh County Coroner released data of 42 Covid-19 related deaths of Northampton County residents.

Residents: Allen Twp., 1; Bangor, 1; Bethlehem Twp., 55; City of Bethlehem, 22; City of Easton, 38; Forks Twp., 6; Freemansburg, 1; Hanover Twp., 1; Hellertown, 5; Lehigh Twp., 2; Lower Nazareth Twp., 3; Lower Saucon Twp., 1; Moore, 1; Nazareth, 2; Northampton, 3; Palmer Twp., 29; Plainfield Twp., 1; Tatamy, 1; Upper Nazareth Twp., 74; Washington Twp., 7; Williams Twp., 3; Wilson, 2; Wind Gap, 1.

Non-residents: Astoria, NY, 1; Bronx, NY, 1; Bucks County, 4; City of Allentown, 3; Glen Garden, N.J., 1; Lehigh Co., 2; Lopatcong Twp. NJ, 1; Lower Macungie Twp., 1; Millersburg, PA, 1; Monroe County, 6; Montgomery County, 1; Phillipsburg, NJ, 2; Upper Macungie. 1; Washington N.J., 1.

Demographic data for 244 deaths reported by the Northampton County Coroner

The ages of the deceased range from 29 to 106 years of age.

Average age of the deceased is 83.1 years

Gender – 51 percent Female, 49 percent Male

Race: 88 percent White, 6 percent African American, 2 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic

Demographic data for 42 deaths reported by the Lehigh County Coroner

Average age of the deceased is 76 years

Gender – 43 percent Female, 57 percent Male

Race: 74 percent White, 22 percent Hispanic, 2 percent African American, 2 percent Filipino, 0 percent Asian

LEHIGH VALLEY

ANTI-BODY TESTING: Patient First now offers Covid-19 antibody testing at all of its Medical Centers on a walk-in basis, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day of the week. Appointments are not needed for antibody testing. The antibody test is used to determine if someone previously had Covid-19 and not to diagnose an active infection.

Antibody testing is for patients who believe they may have had Covid-19 in the past, who are not currently experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, and who are at least 5 years old.

For most patients, there is no out-of-pocket expense for antibody testing. For insured patients, the visit will be submitted to patients’ insurance plans. Patient First accepts all major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. The lab will determine what, if anything, it bills the patient.

PENNSYLVANIA

MASK WEARING: Multiple research studies indicate the efficacy of mask-wearing to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Mask-wearing also has been called altruistic, a way to increase our freedoms, and a simple kindness. Governor Tom Wolf’s call to wear masks has been endorsed by Pennsylvania businesses that see mask-wearing as vital to protecting customers, employees, communities and their bottom lines. Gov. Wolf and Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine made mask-wearing a requirement of businesses with in-person operations via the secretary’s order that grants her this authority granted by law.

PPE CHARGES: The Department of Human Services (DHS) has advised Medicaid providers that Medicaid recipients may not be charged for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used in connection with medical or dental services.

While not a widespread issue, DHS had heard that a small number of providers were considering billing patients for PPE used during care. DHS has determined that PPE is a supply and is part of the provider’s overhead and cost of doing business. Providers cannot charge Medicaid beneficiaries for any PPE that is used in connection with a Medicaid-covered medical or dental service.

LICENSE EXPIURATION DATES: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has announced that expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards and learner’s permits, will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Effective June 23, 2020, expiration dates for driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16 through July 31 have been extended until July 31. These extensions are in addition to those announced on May 27.

A camera card is considered a driver’s license, so it is covered by the same terms and conditions extending other driver’s license products. Camera cards with expiration dates within this timeframe are also extended through July 31, 2020.

The following products were previously extended until June 30 and will not be extended:

•Vehicle registrations of all classes which includes, but not limited to, mass transit vehicle registrations, apportioned vehicle registrations, fleet vehicle registrations, dealer plate registrations, temporary registrations and biennial farm exemption certificates scheduled to expire from March 16 through June 30.

•Safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through June 30.

•Persons with Disabilities parking placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through June 30.

CULTURAL CARES FUNDS: Twenty million dollars in grant funding for cultural organizations and museums to offset lost revenue caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown order.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) approved the program guidelines for the Covid-19 Cultural and Museum Preservation Grant Program, which is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Applications will be accepted between June 29, and July 31, through the online Electronic Single Application for Assistance, www.esa.dced.state.pa.us.

BUSINESS LOAN DEFERRALS: Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority (PMBDA), and Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) are extending business loan deferrals by three additional calendar months.

In April, the administration first announced loan deferrals as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the administration’s stay-at-home order.

PIDA borrowers except for loans under the traditional PIDA real estate account, with payments due in July, August and September of 2020 are deferred. All other terms and conditions of all applicable loans remain unchanged.

Businesses seeking further guidance and clarification from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov.