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Local
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Cocktails to go; Wolf signs bill allowing COVID-19-impacted bars, restaurants to sell take-out mixed drinks

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.”


Veterans Dennis Fellin and Dave Joseph look for graves of veterans and service members buried at Odd Fellows Cemetery, in Coal Township, on Thursday. Veterans and other volunteers placed approximately 1,600 flags throughout the cemetery along Trevorton Road in honor of Memorial Day.


Veteran Jim Diamond places a flag on the grave of a veteran buried at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Coal Township on Thursday.


Local
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Line Mountain School District to hold virtual graduation

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.


Local
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Suspect taken into custody following Zerbe Township vehicle pursuit

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.


National
More evidence emerges on why COVID-19 is so much worse than the flu

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.