HARRISBURG — Customers of bars and restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic now have the option of purchasing cocktails to go.
Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday signed into law a liquor reform bill that includes a provision allowing licensed establishments that have lost 25% of average monthly total sales, and that offer meals to go, to temporarily sell mixed drinks for off-premise consumption.
Rep. Kurt Masser, R-107, sponsored an amendment to Bill 327, now Act 21 of 2020, allowing certain establishments to sell prepared beverages or mixed drinks for off-premise consumption in quantities between 4 to 64 ounces.
The temporary rule expires after the COVID-19 disaster emergency ends and a business reaches 60% capacity.
Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, lead sponsor of the bill, said the amendment supports local restaurants selling food, beer and wine for curbside pickup and takeout during the crisis by allowing them to expand the products they can provide to consumers.
“Our local restaurants are working hard to feed our communities during this difficult time,” Warren said in a news release Thursday.
The law, which goes into effect immediately, permits eligible establishments to sell packaged containers of mixed drinks no less than 4 ounces and no greater than 64 ounces in a single transaction.
The sealed container must have a secure lid or cap designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap. A lid with sipping holes or opening for straws must be covered or affixed with an additional seal before sale.
Within 60 days, bars and restaurants must use a transaction scan device to verify a consumer’s age if the person appears to be younger than 35 years of age.
“This new temporary rule creates more business for bars and restaurants when they need it, helps to meet customer demand and supports social distancing,” Wolf said in his signing message. “As we approach the holiday weekend, I encourage all Pennsylvanians to remember to drink responsibly.”
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board further explained that licensees may not sell to-go mixed drinks containing wine or beer, unopened bottles of liquor, gallon jugs of cocktails, unopened ready-to-drink prepackaged cocktails and straight liquor.
Licensees can sell drinks to go from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays, if the licensee has a Sunday sales permit.
There is no limit to the number of drinks-to-go a person can purchase at a time, and purchase of a meal is not required in order to buy drinks to go. Drinks-to-go may not be delivered.
Act 21 would also amend the Liquor Code to clarify the process for a referendum on whether to allow for the sale of liquor in their municipality in a primary, municipal or general election.
“Act 21 both streamlines the process for residents to decide whether to permit alcohol sales in a ‘dry’ municipality and allows restaurants to add another product for their customers for curbside pickup and takeout during this crisis,” Warren said. “I thank Gov. Wolf and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this bill.”
MANDATA — The Line Mountain High School is pleased to announce it has partnered with Herff Jones – in collaboration with graduation technology partners StageClip and MarchingOrder – to host a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020.
The event will be held 7:30 p.m. June 4. The virtual graduation can be viewed by a link found at www.linemountain.com. This link will be available on the website for the virtual graduation date June 4.
The ceremony will include the national anthem, alma mater, welcome address by the class president, valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, and speeches by the principal and superintendent. Each graduate will be featured in an individual slide.
In light of current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 global health crisis, resulting in closed campuses for the remainder of the school year and no clear indication as to when it would be possible to hold a traditional ceremony, Line Mountain believes a virtual graduation is the best option at this time.
“We understand nothing can replace an in-person graduation ceremony, and, dependent upon local and national mandates being lifted, we will continue to look into the possibility of bringing this class together in the future,” the district said in a news release. “In the meantime, we still want to celebrate and honor the resilient Class of 2020.”
The district previously announced that prom is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21, at the Silver Moon Banquet Hall in Lewisburg. The theme is “A Night of a Thousand Lights.”
District officials said a final call on whether prom will occur in 2020 will be made by July 31. Noting the uncertainty of being able to gather in large groups, the junior class has invited the senior class and an age-appropriate guest to prom on April 24, 2021, if this year’s prom is canceled.
HARRISBURG — Some counties in Pennsylvania could see practically all of the state’s pandemic restrictions on business activity and gatherings lifted in the coming days, other than social-distancing and health-monitoring guidelines that are in place to help stop the spread of the coronarivus.
Thursday’s announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf — that some counties could get to move to the least-restrictive “green” phase of his three-color traffic-signal reopening plan stages — could become official today.
“So I’ll be announcing a whole range of counties tomorrow (Friday) moving from red to yellow and the hope is that we’ll also be making some counties that might even be moving from yellow to green tomorrow (Friday),” Wolf told reporters on a conference call.
With the number of new infections slowing, Wolf has been easing social distancing restrictions and allowing many businesses to reopen in lightly impacted areas of the state.
It is not clear, exactly, what restrictions, if any, will remain in place in the green phase.
Wolf’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said the Health Department will soon release criteria for moving a county into the green phase of Wolf’s reopening plan.
“As we release the metrics to go into the green zone, we’re also working on what life in the green zone would (look) like, especially for businesses, restaurants, etc.,” Levine said Thursday at a video news conference.
Today, 12 already-announced counties — Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne and York — will move from red to yellow and join 37 other counties.
Eighteen mostly eastern Pennsylvania counties that are home to 60% of Pennsylvania’s 12.8 million residents — including Philadelphia and its heavily populated suburbs — have yet to receive word as to when they will leave the red phase.
Wolf’s stay-at-home order still applies in the red phase, as do many restrictions on business activity that lift in the yellow phase.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Thursday reported 102 additional deaths linked to COVID-19, raising the statewide total to 4,869. Two-thirds of the state’s deaths have been among residents of nursing homes and other facilities that care for older adults.
State health officials also reported that 980 more people have tested positive for the new coronavirus. The state has recorded fewer than 1,000 new cases for 11 consecutive days.
A total of 150 Northumberland County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 14 cases since May 15. There have been 1,179 negative tests.
Columbia County reported 342 (plus eight in a week); Dauphin 1,034 (122); Lycoming 152 (11); Montour 51 (1); Schuylkill 548 (38); Snyder, 33 (0); and Union 61 (17).
According to the Department of Corrections (DOC), one employee at SCI-Coal Township has tested positive and recovered. Twelve employees and 33 inmates have tested negative.
Statewide, 165 DOC employees have tested positive and 79 have recovered. A total of 231 inmates have tested positive with 148 having recovered.
Of the total cases, 72 employees and 37 inmates were from SCI-Phoenix in Collegevile, Montgomery County. SCI-Huntingdon in Huntingdon County had 51 employees and 158 inmates who have tested positive.
Pennsylvania’s Department of State approved Philadelphia’s plan to consolidate some 850 polling places into 190 polling places for the June 2 primary election that will be conducted while the city is likely to still be under the governor’s coronavirus stay-at-home order.
Allegheny County, the state’s second-most populous county behind Philadelphia, received state approval to set up 211 polling places, down from about 830.
Montgomery County, the third-most populous county, is planning to set up 140, down from 352.
The fear of infection has made it difficult to recruit polling workers, and state and federal health guidelines have made it difficult to find polling places that can accommodate the demands of social distancing, local election officials say.
ZERBE TOWNSHIP — A minor male was taken into custody after a vehicle pursuit that initiated at 5:12 p.m. Thursday.
Police reported that Patrolman Allen Guiney attempted a vehicle stop on a sedan on state Route 225 near the Sunoco gas station.
The driver, who was not identified because of his age, is alleged to have fled the scene and, in the process, collided with a police cruiser. Police said the crash was minor and there were no injuries.
The vehicle continued to flee with officers from Shamokin, Sunbury, Coal Township and the Pennsylvania State Police responding to assist.
According to scanner transmissions, the vehicle was a Honda Civic and reportedly fled at a high rate of speed.
Shortly after, police said, the suspect turned himself into police. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Researchers who examined the lungs of patients killed by COVID-19 found evidence that it attacks the lining of blood vessels there, a critical difference from the lungs of people who died of the flu, according to a report published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Critical parts of the lungs of patients infected by the novel coronavirus also suffered many microscopic blood clots and appeared to respond to the attack by growing tiny new blood vessels, the researchers reported.
The observations in a small number of autopsied lungs buttress reports from physicians treating covid-19 patients. Doctors have described widespread damage to blood vessels and the presence of blood clots that would not be expected in a respiratory disease.
“What’s different about covid-19 is the lungs don’t get stiff or injured or destroyed before there’s hypoxia,” the medical term for oxygen deprivation, said Steven Mentzer, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and part of the team that wrote the report. “For whatever reason, there is a vascular phase” in addition to damage more commonly associated with viral diseases such as the flu, he said.
The research team compared seven lungs of patients who died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with lung tissue from seven patients who died of pneumonia caused by the flu. They also examined 10 lungs donated for transplant but not used. The lungs, acquired in Europe, were matched by age and gender.
They did not look at blood vessels in organs such as the kidneys and heart, where other researchers have described finding attacks from the virus and unexpected blood clots.
In larger blood vessels of the lungs, the number of blood clots was similar among COVID-19 and flu patients, the researchers wrote. But in COVID-19 patients, they found nine times as many micro-clots in the tiny capillaries of the small air sacs that allow oxygen to pass into the blood stream and carbon dioxide to move out. The virus may have damaged the walls of those capillaries and blocked the movement of those gases, the researchers wrote.
They also found inflamed and damaged cells in the lining of blood vessels in the COVID-19 patients.
Most surprising was evidence that the lungs of people attacked by the SARS-CoV-2 virus grew new blood vessels.
“The lungs from patients with covid-19 had significant new vessel growth,” a discovery the researchers described as “unexpected.” In an interview, Mentzer speculated that may have been an attempt by the lungs to pass more oxygen to hypoxic tissue.
“That may be one of the things that gets people better,” he said.
The researchers looked for genetic and other differences that might help predict who is most susceptible to severe illness from the virus but did not find any in their tiny sample. So far in the pandemic, COVID-19 has hit certain groups, including older people, African Americans and people with underlying diseases such as diabetes, the hardest.
“Patients who do fairly well have a purely respiratory disease, and the patients who have trouble have a vascular component as well,” Mentzer said. But efforts to determine or explain who will fall into each group have not panned out, he said.