AP PA Headlines: Dr. Levine defends nursing home response

AP PA Headlines 6/28/20

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s health secretary is defending her agency’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak inside nursing homes and personal care facilities. They account for almost 70% of the state’s nearly 6,600 fatalities. Criticism has focused on the state’s policy that sent recovering patients back to nursing homes after being treated in hospitals.

Levine’s agency has said it was following a March directive from the federal government that nursing homes admit anyone they normally would, including patients from hospitals where COVID-19 has been present. Levine says the main source of COVID-19 infections inside the facilities is more likely the homes’ own employees.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania health officials are taking a deep dive into areas where COVID-19 cases are ticking up and threatening to undo months of progress against the disease. The state’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said Friday the increases may be due to reopening as well as increased testing. The state will allow Lebanon County, the 67th and final county, to move from the yellow phase to the less-restrictive green phase in a week.

The Health Department says there are 600 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, the highest total since June 13. Statewide, new case counts grew by 30%, compared with the previous seven-day period.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia school officials are making changes regarding how the district handles security. School police will no longer patrol school halls come September. In their place will be “school safety officers” clad in less severe uniforms and with different job descriptions who will be stationed throughout the public schools.

The policy shift won’t mean the replacement of the 300-plus people who worked as school police. The district’s new safety chief, a longtime police officer who started his new job in November, has made plain his aim to move away from arresting students and toward mentoring and providing social services supports.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Authorities are accusing two men of breaking into 10 churches in or near Philadelphia, taking safes, precious metals, electronics and other items. Charges that include burglary were filed this week against 21-year-old Gabriel Minnick and 20-year-old Samaj Howard, both of Philadelphia.

A message seeking comment was left Friday with the Montgomery County public defender’s office. The men are accused of taking a TV from a nursery, cash from a collection box for the poor and bottles of wine, among other things. They also allegedly damaged church buildings and prosecutors say they face charges related to three stolen vehicles.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Authorities in western Pennsylvania say a man has been charged with criminal homicide and other counts in a triple shooting that killed a year-old boy in Pittsburgh more than seven years ago.

The now-22-year-old Wilkinsburg man, who was a teenager at the time of the May 2013 shooting, was arrested Saturday on homicide, conspiracy, aggravated assault and weapon charges. Police say 25 to 30 people were at a picnic in the East Hills neighborhood when three people got out of a vehicle across the street and opened fire. Fifteen-month-old Marcus White Jr. was killed and two of his aunts were wounded.

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