A wildlife friendly Fourth | Five for your weekend

(c) R. Gino Santa Maria - Stock.Adobe.com Fireworks at night over dark blue sky

Happy Independence Day weekend, everyone!

Before you set out for the holiday weekend, I wanted to share something new I learned just this week.

Most of us know that our pets are not fans of fireworks displays – no matter how pretty, but did you know that wildlife can be adversely affected, as well?

Fireworks have been shown to disorient animals such as birds, rabbits and even deer.

The noise can cause them to flee into roadways, abandon their nests and decrease their appetite. Additionally, soot, residue and waste from fireworks can end up in rivers and streams where fish are likely to eat what washes their way.

Courtesy of Natural Lands, here are some suggestions for minimizing the impact on wildlife while still enjoying your Independence Day celebration:

  • Minimize the noise: Try to choose quieter options to avoid disrupting wildlife too much. For example, laser shows are far less disruptive than fireworks to the environment.
  • Choose fireworks with minimal waste: Pick fireworks you can swiftly and easily dispose of after the display.
  • Drive slowly: Animals are going to be running scared. Be prepared to brake suddenly and avoid collisions.
  • Don’t forget your pets: Bring in your pets well before dusk to keep them safe and comforted.

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 outbreak in Pa.: What’s open and what’s closedThis story will be updated with the latest COVID-related re-openings. Last update: Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Updated: With all 67 Pennsylvania counties now fully, or partially, reopened, the Wolf administration has issued updated guidance for a host of outdoor-related businesses, from miniature golf courses and paintball ranges, to horseback riding businesses and tennis clubs.

“As summer quickly approaches and all 67 counties are in either yellow or green phases of reopening, it was important to provide businesses with the guidance necessary to safely reopen or plan for reopening as they reach the green phase,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement issued by his office. “I want all Pennsylvanians to remain active and to enjoy all the recreation the commonwealth has to offer, but we must do so safely and with social distancing top of mind.”

(Image via pxHere.com)
2. Memorial Day 2020: 14-Day quarantine complicates tourist rentals

By Elaine S. Povich

Ken Mason is in the ninth generation of his family to run the Seaside Inn in Kennebunk Beach, Maine. He’s worried he might be the last.

What’s got him concerned are the COVID-19 rules that Maine and many other states have put in place requiring visitors from other states to quarantine for 14 days once they arrive. That won’t work for Mason. His average visitor stays three and a half days; that’s typical for tourist rentals. Mason is now limited to hosting only Maine residents or out-of-staters who agreed to quarantine for the two weeks.

All over the country, states have instituted the two-week quarantine for hotels, inns, golf courses and other amenities to stop people from states with high COVID-19 infection rates from bringing the virus with them, sickening local residents and overwhelming medical facilities.

3. Pa. is facing a wave of evictions. Two state House lawmakers have a plan to help | Tuesday Morning Coffee

As Gov. Tom Wolf did battle with the Republican-controlled General Assembly last week over a vote to end his COVID-19 emergency declaration, the Democratic governor argued that lifting it would end an administration-imposed moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, now set to expire on July 10.

Assuming that two state courts agree with Wolf, and allow the order to remain in place, that date is uncomfortably near for thousands of renters and homeowners. And less discussed is what will happen when the moratorium ends.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, landlords and tenants alike are looking for assistance to deal with the looming crisis. Pennsylvania has set aside $150 million in a piece of budget-enabling legislation known as the Fiscal Code that provides assistance to renters, the Inquirer reports. Tenants and landlords seeking funds on their behalf have until Sept. 30 to apply, the newspaper reported. And some landlords are moving on their own to waive fees and put off rent increases.

Still, two Democratic lawmakers want to go further to make sure renters are protected.

4. COVID-19 in Pennsylvania: Tracking the outbreak with maps and graphs

(Editor’s Note: Because of a change in the way the Dept. of Health reports data, the Capital-Star has stopped updating this data, effective 6/10/20. We will continue to report on events regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as they unfold.)

The 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.

5. ‘Demanding justice’: Issues group run by former Wolf aide launches first salvo at GOP Legislature | Thursday Morning Coffee (*Updated, 8:39 a.m., 7/2/20: This story has been updated to correctly identify J.J. Abbott as Gov. Tom Wolf’s former press secretary. A previous version of this story misstated his former position.) 

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It’s been a few minutes … okay, it’s been a lifetime in pandemic time … since former Wolf administration spokesman J.J Abbott left government service for a career in the private sector. And in the intervening months, the normally combative spox has kept a pretty low public profile — unless you’ve stumbled across his Twitter account, where he’s remained as voluble and opinionated as ever.

Well, Abbott is back, with a new firm, Commonwealth Communications, which finds him doing in private life much the same thing he did while serving as Gov. Tom Wolf’s press secretary*: Professionally annoying the Republican-controlled General Assembly, and big-upping progressive causes in an election year and beyond.

The opening salvo from the 501(c)(4), we can exclusively reveal, is a six-figure digital campaign aimed at “[juxtaposing] the early June protests uniting Pennsylvanians against systemic racism and inequality with the legislature’s divisive and reckless vote to end the governor’s disaster declaration,” according to a statement obtained by the Capital-Star.

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.