Investigation continues into cause of a McKean County fire last week…Austin teen cited for physical harassment…..Road work on Route 6 in Port Allegany will resume next week…Penn State study finds young deer leaving home face no more risks than those staying near birthplace…..Covid cases continue to decline locally…..
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will resume work on Route 6 in Port Allegany on Monday, March 15, with work continuing until June 1. In 2020, PennDOT worked on the west end of the project between Route 155 and Arnold Avenue at the Sheetz store. Work included ADA ramps, new sidewalk in the areas of the ADA ramps, ditch cleaning, driveway improvements, installation of traffic signal foundations, and pipe cleaning.
This year, crews will work on the east end of the project from Arnold Avenue to Mill Street. Work will be similar to last year but will also include the installation of new traffic signals.
As work resumes, drivers will encounter alternating traffic patterns enforced by roadway flaggers. Short travel delays are likely. This work will take place through May and PennDOT will issue updates on traffic impacts as needed.
Work will be done in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and state Department of Health guidance as well as a project-specific COVID-19 safety plan. The plan includes protocols for social distancing, use of face coverings, personal and job site cleaning protocols, management of entries to the job site, and relevant training.
M & B Services, LLC of Clarion is the contractor on this $1.3 million project. All work is weather and schedule dependent.
Once this project concludes, PennDOT expects to begin another project that will feature additional drainage and paving along this same section of Route 6.
Motorists can check conditions on major roadways by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
Subscribe to PennDOT news in Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, and Potter counties at www.penndot.gov/District2.
For regional updates on Twitter, follow www.twitter.com/511PAStateCOLL
Penn State researchers study young deer behavior. Juvenile white-tailed deer that strike out to find new home ranges — despite facing more risks — survive at about the same rate as those that stay home, according to a team of researchers who conducted the first mortality study of male and female dispersal where deer were exposed to threats such as hunting throughout their entire range. Dispersal occurs when a juvenile leaves the area where it was born and moves to a new location where the young animal establishes its adult home range, explained Duane Diefenbach, Penn State adjunct professor of wildlife ecology. The instinctual dispersal of young deer from the area where they were born to a new home range protects the species’ gene pool from inbreeding with close relatives.
Diefenbach’s research group in the College of Agricultural Sciences has radio collared hundreds of Pennsylvania deer over the last 20 years, monitoring their survival, movement and behavior. Earlier research done by his lab, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, revealed that about three of every four young, male white-tailed deer disperse, with yearling female dispersal rates much lower.
Dispersal distances depend on forested cover, Diefenbach and colleagues demonstrated in previous research. But on average in Pennsylvania, males travel more than three miles, typically in direct, straight-line fashion; females that disperse often seemingly wander around before settling down an average of about nine miles from where they started.
“We wanted to know how risky dispersal is,” said lead researcher Eric Long, now a professor of biology at Seattle Pacific University, who was a doctoral degree student at Penn State advised by Diefenbach when early stages of the research unfolded. He was surprised to find no detectable increase in death among dispersing deer.
“We expected to find that dispersal results in added mortality because deer are traveling across unfamiliar territory and are more likely to encounter predators or vehicles,” Long said. “Going into this research, I expected to have a lot of our dispersers killed by vehicles as they were making the movement. We were surprised at how effective deer are at dispersing, especially when they have to deal with relatively modern risks like roads and hunting.”
For this study, researchers captured 398 juvenile male and 276 juvenile female white-tailed deer and compared survival rates of dispersers and nondispersers.
Over three years, 381 males were equipped with very high frequency — or VHF — radio-transmitters and were located with telemetry at least weekly; 17 were equipped with global positioning system, or GPS, radio-transmitters that recorded positions at least twice daily. Over six years, 245 females were equipped with VHF transmitters and located at least weekly; 32 were equipped with GPS transmitters that recorded position at least daily.
Juvenile deer were captured in the winter through early spring. At the time of capture, they were seven to 10 months old. For both male and female white-tailed deer, natal dispersal prior to 11 months of age is rare, Long noted, so capture between December and April decreased the likelihood of capturing juveniles that had already dispersed.
Results of the research, recently published in Ecology and Evolution, indicate that for both male and female yearlings, survival rates of dispersers — males 49.9%, females 64.0% — did not differ appreciably from those of nondispersers — males 51.6%, females 70.7%. Only two individuals, both female, were killed by vehicular collision during dispersal movement.
So, why do dispersing juvenile deer fare as well as nondispersers despite facing more risk? Researchers are not sure, but Long suspects that deer with the predisposition to be more adventurous might have a genetic makeup that helps them to avoid threats. Also, he said, there is some evidence to suggest that yearlings in better condition, with bigger bodies, are more likely to disperse than deer in poorer condition.
“It may be that only those deer that are up to the challenge of dispersal even try it,” he said. “Bucks, which are more likely to disperse, seem much more efficient at dispersal than females. They don’t mess around and wander all over the place like does — and that likely decreases their risk.”
Also involved in the research were Clayton Lutz, a master’s degree student in wildlife and fisheries science who did his thesis on female deer dispersal and is now a biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission; and Bret Wallingford and Christopher Rosenberry, Bureau of Wildlife Management, Pennsylvania Game Commission.
This work was supported by the Pennsylvania Game Commission; Pennsylvania Audubon Society; the Susquehanna, Southeast and Northcentral Pennsylvania branches of the Quality Deer Management Association; the Pennsylvania Deer Association; and the U.S. Geological Survey. Diefenbach is an employee of the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 8, there were 1,658 additional positive cases of COVID-19, in addition to 1,518 new cases reported Sunday, March 7, for a two-day total of 3,176 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 950,161.
Here in the Black Forest Broadcasting Service Area, cases continue to level off. Elk County has 2325 confirmed cases; McKean County, 2325;Tioga County has 2184; Potter, 824; and Cameron, 176. In neighboring New York state, Cattaraugus County has 4500 confirmed cases and Allegany County, 2936.
There are 1,587 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19. Of that number, 314 patients are in the intensive care unit with COVID-19. Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.
The trend in the 14-day moving average number of hospitalized patients per day is about 4,300 lower than it was at the peak on December 25, 2020. However, the current 14-day average is now also below what it was at the height of the spring peak on May 3, 2020.
Statewide percent positivity for the week of February 26 – March 4 stood at 5.7%.
The most accurate daily data is available on the website, with archived data also available.
As of 11:59 p.m. Saturday, March 6, there were 32 new deaths and as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 7, there were 7 new deaths identified by the Pennsylvania death registry, reported for a total of 24,356 deaths attributed to COVID-19. County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Pennsylvania hospitals began receiving shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine the week of Dec. 14 and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine the week of Dec. 21. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine was first allocated to Pennsylvania the week of March 1, and the commonwealth is using it for a special initiative involving educators. Vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government.
This week, a total of 4,179,220 doses will have been allocated through March 13:
254,150 first/single doses will have been allocated this week.
225,890 second doses will have been allocated this week.
To date, of the 4,179,220 doses allocated through March 13, we have administered 2,981,190 doses total through March 7:
First/single doses, 84 percent (2,029,732 administered of 2,427,085 allocated)
Second doses, 54 percent (951,458 administered of 1,752,135 allocated)
Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home, and while outdoors when social distancing is not possible, even if fully vaccinated. Health experts continue to say consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
There are 114,008 individuals who have a positive viral antigen test and are considered probable cases and 640 individuals who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure.
There are 3,948,020 individuals who have tested negative to date.
In licensed nursing and personal care homes, there are 67,933 resident cases of COVID-19, and 13,443 cases among employees, for a total of 81,376 at 1,561 distinct facilities in all 67 counties. Out of total deaths reported to PA-NEDSS, 12,610 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here. Note that the number of deaths reported to NEDSS is not exactly the same as the COVID-19 related deaths reported by the death registry. The number of deaths among nursing and personal care home residents and employees is taken from the PA-NEDSS death data, as this information is not available in the death registry data. Approximately 25,126 of the total cases are among health care workers.