How you can help in this time of need | Five for Your Weekend

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Good Saturday Morning, All.

Staying at home can be stressful. Especially in Spring and during holiday seasons when we all want to spend time and share meals with our loved ones.

If you would like to find a way to relieve stress, do good and help others in this time of need, Pennsylvania’s First Lady Frances Wolf, shared some tips for volunteering and ways to connect with organizations in need.

As for our usual disclaimer: Continue self-isolating, stay informed and follow the advice and precautions laid out by state health officials.

The team at the Capital-Star will continue to work hard, bringing you the news you need about COVID-19 and the key issues that affect your lives. At a time of trial, the need for clear, concise reporting is more important than ever. And we’re going to deliver it to you. If you have questions or want to pass along story tips, email us at [email protected].

As always, the top five stories from this week’s news are below to help you stay current.

All the best,
Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

1.COVID-19 in Philly: Breaking down results by ZIP code tells the city’s storyBy Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — The city ZIP code with the highest number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases on Tuesday was 19131 in West Philadelphia (152 out of 473), according to city data.

Meanwhile, the ZIP code with the highest rate of positive cases was 19116 in Northeast Philadelphia (40.4 percent, 116 positive tests out of 287).

Confirmed cases of novel coronavirus rose to 3,728 to start the week, up 17 percent from Sunday. The city logged 12,628 negative tests.

The Kenney administration will provide updates at its daily briefing at 1 p.m. about the city’s response to the coronavirus.

Philadelphia Police Lt. James Walker became the first city employee to die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Walker died on Sunday.

Fatalities from the disease hit 45 on Monday, although city officials were investigating other deaths that may be linked to the virus.

2. COVID-19 in Pennsylvania: Tracking the outbreak with maps and graphsThe staff at the Capital-Star is working round-the-clock to keep you updated on the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania. Our continually updated graphics use state Department of Health data to show you the latest in testing data, total case counts, and the geographic spread of the virus.

First, our county-level map shows how many cases have been confirmed in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. We’re currently updating this at least once a day with information from the Department of Health’s noon-time press releases.

This map only uses data from the state Department of Health, so it may not include new cases that you’ve seen reported in local media outlets. Local hospitals and health officials report their cases to the state, and we’re relying on state data to make sure we’re not over-counting patients.

3. Pa.’s Toomey, Colorado lawmaker want CDC to clarify rules to encourage face-mask use in publicHoping to further shift the dialogue around wearing face masks in public, two federal lawmakers are calling on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise its guidance to encourage people to use masks when they leave their homes.

“My goal is to do whatever we can, within reason, to reduce the rate of transmission of the virus,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said in a Wednesday conference call. “… If we don’t reduce the rate of transmission, there’s the risk that our hospitals could be overwhelmed and that would be disastrous.”

Toomey, joined by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., pointed to successful efforts in other countries, such as the Czech Republic, where mask-wearing has become the norm, and has played a role in reducing the transmission of the coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19.

Through midday Wednesday, health officials had confirmed 5,805 cases of COVID-19 in 60 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. As of Tuesday, half of all counties, 33, were under stay-at-home orders.

4.Short on staff and supplies in a pandemic, Erie nursing home employees say they’re not getting the help they needERIE, Pa. — Employees at Twinbrook, an Erie senior care facility, say they’re short on staff and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have accused management of being indifferent to their needs.

The employees  brought their concerns to the attention of state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, who told the Capital-Star: “When people do understand what’s involved … I think there’s going to be a lot of community outrage.”

Harkins told the Capital-Star that he was “surprised to learn through a couple of phone calls that employees weren’t being treated as well as they thought they should be.”

Harkins said he’s asked Twinbrook employees to submit formal complaints so he can “do my darndest to help them in any way that I could.”

The dispute over staffing and supplies also comes amid the employees’ ongoing effort to unionize.

*On Feb. 23, internal union representatives of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania firm, met with Twinbrook employees to “move serious unionizing plans,” Nati Zavala, a union representative, told the Capital-Star.

5. As cases grow, human service workers say they can’t use COVID-19 leave offered to other state employeesThe state of Pennsylvania is offering tens of thousands of workers paid leave as public offices shutter during the coronavirus. But workers who provide assistance to the commonwealth’s low-income residents say that, even with documented cases of COVID-19 in their offices, they are not getting similar support.

“The rules apply to everyone except the [county assistance officers], that’s what I’m gathering,” a state official familiar with their situation told the Capital-Star.

When Gov. Tom Wolf closed state offices nearly three weeks ago, he promised “a 10 workday paid absence for individuals who don’t have telework capabilities.”

The administration has added that the 10 days of leave is also open to workers “if they are quarantined, self-quarantined on the advice of a healthcare provider, or have symptoms related to COVID-19.”

But forced to return to their offices by the Wolf administration, several county assistance workers, who process low-income utility, food and medical assistance claims, have contracted the coronavirus. One employee in Scranton has been hospitalized.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. We’ll see you all back here on Monday.

Read it all
Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.