Staving off cabin fever | Five for the Weekend

Young woman in coronaviruse self home isolation lockdown quarantine working from home. Real people. Copy space

Happy Weekend, everyone! 

It might not feel like a weekend if you’ve been working remotely all week, or even a portion of it, but another weekend is definitely here – the first one of spring, no less!

Trivia Question: What are the first spring flower to bloom? (Answer below)

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].

To fight off cabin fever, here’s a few stories NOT about COVID-19 to read in the backyard, snuggled up with your pet or while making a home-cooked meal.

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

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,
Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

Trivia Answer: 
Daffodils, lilacs, tulips and dandelions are some of the first flowers to appear in Spring.

1.COVID-19 Outbreak: Inmate advocate group calls for ‘Decarceration’ of Allegheny County Jail

PITTSBURGH — An alliance of elected officials and other organizations led by the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration, a statewide advocacy group for individuals in lockup, is calling for the “decarceration” of the Allegheny County Jail in light of the COVID-19 virus.

While drastic steps have been taken to slow the spread of the virus by closing schools, banning large gatherings and asking nonessential employees in all professions to work from home, CADBI said that nothing has been done to help Allegheny County Jail inmates.

“These measures do not take into account one of the most vulnerable, highly concentrated populations: the county’s jail population, composed of over 2,300 individuals packed into tight quarters and often lacking basic hygiene,” according to a statement released by the group.

2. COVID-19 outbreak in Pa.: What’s open and what’s closedThis story will be updated with the latest COVID-related shutdowns. Last update: Friday, March 20 at 7:48 a.m.

Update: Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday strengthened his orders for most Pennsylvania businesses to temporarily close their doors, using his executive power to threaten legal enforcement against those that refused to cease operations.

The broad designation applies to laundromats, performing arts venues, recreation centers, entertainment venues, and general merchandise stores, which all must shutter by 8 p.m. Thursday, Wolf announced in a late afternoon press release.

State agencies including the Pennsylvania State Police will begin enforcing the order at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, and businesses that don’t comply could face fines, citations, license revocations, or criminal prosecution, Wolf said.

The order also affects many office workplaces, including accounting businesses, law firms, real estate offices and certain administrative support services, according to a list of business classifications that accompanied the release.

3. Wolf orders shutdown of schools, public spaces in Montgomery County as Pennsylvania enters two-week COVID response

Gov. Tom Wolf has asked Pennsylvanians to avoid public gatherings and recreational activities as he announced the shutdown of schools, community centers and entertainment venues for two weeks in Montgomery County to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Wolf’s instructions for “significant and decisive social distancing” will take effect Friday, March 13, he said.

“They seem severe but are far less draconian then what we may need to do in the future if we don’t act now,” Wolf said Thursday during a 2 p.m. press briefing with state health officials.

There are at least 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania, Wolf said, all in counties on the eastern edge of the state.

4. Unanimous: All 18 of Pa’s U.S. House members vote for COVID-19 relief package

WASHINGTON — In a rare display of unity, all 18 members of Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation joined with a majority of their colleagues to approve an emergency stimulus package to combat the coronavirus pandemic after President Donald Trump signaled his support for the bill.

The early Saturday vote authorizes a multi-billion dollar package aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, and mitigate its economic effects as fears of recession loom.

The bill — the Families First Coronavirus Response Act — passed 363-40, with overwhelming bipartisan support. The 40 votes against the bill were all Republicans. The House’s only independent lawmaker, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, voted “present” on the bill. Another 26 lawmakers did not vote.

Passage came hours after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the pandemic, freeing up as much as $50 billion to help the country weather the pandemic and waiving restrictions on health providers and facilities.

5. This is what the spread of coronavirus looks like in Pa. In two charts | Tuesday Morning Coffee
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With the state reporting an increased number of COVID-19 cases every day, and with much talk about flattening the curve, we’ve put together this chart of the spread of the outbreak. The data visualization below was created by Capital-Star Staff Reporter Elizabeth Hardison.As Hardison notes, and we pass on, there’s an important caveat here: The state has increased its testing capacity, and it has started receiving test results from commercial labs since the first cases were reported on March 6. The reported cases only reflect positive test results reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.The map below, again created and maintained by Hardison, charts the spread of the disease across the state. As the reporting to date has indicated, the virus is mainly concentrated in eastern Pennsylvania — the most densely populated part of the state, but its footprint is slowly expanding.And that’s the week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. We’ll see you all back here on Monday.
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.