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Today’s Podcast:

Area couple charged with trying to elude police and changing seats in a moving vehicle…drugs and paraphernalia found stashed in Potter County tree….Some counties in region holding still with virus cases while others move up more slowly now…..State positivity rate lower than last week…..http://blackforestbroadcasting.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=72&action=edit&classic-editor

Potter County

Coudersport based State Police arrested two people trying to elude  officers Sunday afternoon on the Gold R oad in Genesee Township troopers report that just before 5:30pm  officers were conducting a traffic enforcement on Route 449 when they observed a 2014 Chevy Cruze committing various traffic violations.  When the trooper attempted to stop the 2014 Chevy Cruz,  the driver and passenger began swapping seats while the vehicle was still in motion. The  car abruptly stopped in the middle of the road. The trooper approached  the car and discovered that the driver and passenger had successfully switched seats.  Dyllan Coats of Wellsville allegedly got out of the car and fled on foot. A pursuit ensued into a wooded area trooper tried to detain Coats  but was unable to do so.  Coats  was subsequently taken into custody without further incident.  He  has been charged with flight to avoid apprehension or punishment resisting arrest, obstruction of justice,  operating privileges are  suspended, speeding, failing to stay in his lane and operating a vehicle without a seatbelt, and operating a vehicle a moving vehicle unsafely. His companion, 23 year old Megan Sherry of Emporium, has been charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, obstruction of justice,  permitting a violation,  failing to stay in  her lane of traffic, operating a vehicle without a seatbelt and operating a moving vehicle unsafely.  Coats was placed in the Potter County Jail and charges against Sherry have been filed in  District Court.

 State Police at Coudersport  are also investigating drugs found at 1845 Hickox Ulysses Road in Bingham township last Saturday afternoon. Police say a bag containing a suspected controlled substance and paraphernalia stuffed in the crotch of a tree. Anyone with information is asked to call the barracks at 814-274-8690.

State wide

The House Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), heard testimony Wednesday reaffirming the potentially devastating economic impacts of Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal on working families across the Commonwealth.

Much of the testimony focused on the governor’s proposed 46% increase in the Personal Income Tax, a levy that is paid by both families and a large percentage of the state’s employers.

“This plan is nothing but a massive, $6 billion tax increase for families and businesses at a time when both are really hurting financially,” Causer said. “It is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing to help our state recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In his testimony, Jared Walczak of the Tax Foundation countered the argument made by some that the Commonwealth has one of the lowest income tax rates in the nation by noting Pennsylvania applies its tax to a broader definition of income than any other state, and its local governments rely more heavily than most on earned income taxes, assessing those taxes at a very high rate. Those high local rates, combined with the governor’s proposed increase, would give Pennsylvania the highest flat-rate subnational income tax in the country at 8.37%.

“It is always important to look at the entirety of the tax burden on our citizens,” Causer said. “We should be looking to lessen that burden, allowing our working families and small employers to keep more of the money they earn to spend it as they see fit, rather than sending more of it to Harrisburg.”

Jason Skrinak, testifying on behalf of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), addressed the portion of the governor’s tax plan that many perceive as a tax cut – his proposed expansion of the existing tax exemption for poverty. He cited concerns about the legality of the plan under the state Constitution, which requires uniform taxation. He also notes that even if special tax forgiveness provisions survived those challenges, workers will still see a lower income on a per-pay-period basis, as tax forgiveness is only provided as a refund when annual tax returns are filed.

Elizabeth Stelle of the Commonwealth Foundation noted the proposed income tax hike would result in a $1,500 tax increase for a family of four making the median family income, as well as affect roughly 855,000 small business owners who are struggling to survive the pandemic.

One testifier, Dr. Matthew Rousu, dean and professor of economics at the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University, focused his testimony on the impact of another Wolf initiative – an increase in the minimum wage. The governor has proposed increasing the wage to $12 in July and then annually by 50 cents until it reaches $15. Rousu testified about how the proposal would drive job losses that tend to harm younger workers and how it would disproportionately hurt smaller businesses that are less able to absorb the costs of automation technology larger businesses often employ to offset the cost of higher wages.

“Today’s hearing was telling. While the governor paints a rosy picture of his proposals, he glosses over the details, and we all know the devil is in the details,” Causer said. “We need to take a deep dive into how real people will be affected by this budget and ensure we develop a plan that will help, rather than harm, working families.”

The committee will hold another hearing about the impact of the governor’s proposal on small business impacts next Wednesday, March 3, at 1:30 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., February 24, there were 2,786 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 920,634. However, the number of virus cases seems to continue to level off . The number of cases in some of the counties covered by Black Forest Broadcasting service area have either held steady or have gone up by only a couple.  McKean County has  2279 confirmed  cases;  Tioga County has  2155; Elk 1224; Potter 811; and Cameron county is holding steady at 173 confirmed cases. across the border in New York State Cattaraugus County has 4324 confirmed cases and Allegany  2856.

There are 1,963 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19. Of that number, 418 patients are in the intensive care unit with COVID-19. There was no change in the data since yesterday. Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. More data is available here.

The trend in the 14-day moving average number of hospitalized patients per day is about 3,700 lower than it was at the peak on December 25, 2020. However, the current 14-day average is just below what it was at the height of the spring peak on May 3, 2020.

Statewide percent positivity for the week of February 12 – February 18 stood at 6.5%.

The most accurate daily data is available on the website, with archived data also available.

As of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, February 23, there were 76 new deaths identified by the Pennsylvania death registry, reported for a total of 23,787 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. Please note that this includes vaccine administration through CVS as part of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership. 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 3,172,900 doses will have been allocated through February 27:

225,890 first doses will have been allocated this week.

180,610 second doses will have been allocated this week.

To date, of the 3,172,900 doses allocated through February 27, we have administered 2,083,277 doses total through February 23:

First doses, 82 percent (1,498,265 administered of 1,836,065 allocated)

Second doses, 44 percent (585,012 administered of 1,336,835 allocated)

Mask-wearing is required in all  Pennsylvania businesses,  whenever leaving home and while outdoors when social distancing is not possible., even if fully vaccinated. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 according to officials.

There are 109,198 individuals who have a positive viral antigen test and are considered probable cases and 636 individuals who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure.

There are 3,843,793 individuals who have tested negative to date.

In licensed nursing and personal care homes, there are 66,237 resident cases of COVID-19, and 12,879 cases among employees, for a total of 79,116 at 1,566 distinct facilities in all 67 counties. Out of total deaths reported to PA-NEDSS, 12,338 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 24,531 of the  total cases are among health care workers.

Coronavirus and preparedness graphics (located at the bottom of the page)

CLARA, Pa.—Loretta J. Gross, 61, of Clara, passed away on Monday, February 22, 2021, in the Olean General Hospital, Olean, N.Y., after a short illness.Born on Thursday, December 3, 1959 in Wellsville, N.Y., she was a daughter of Edward E. and Mary A. Drake Smith. On August 30, 1975 in Millport, she married Barry L. Gross, who survives.Loretta was a graduate of Oswayo Valley High School in Shinglehouse.She loved feeding the birds and also loved her cat, Bandit. Loretta’s greatest love was her family and her patriotic love for her country.Surviving in addition to her husband are a son, Cody L. (Nedra) Gross of Clara; three sisters, Norene (Robert) Simonds of South Carolina, Edwina (Randy) Parker of Olean, N.Y., and Betty (Ed) Majot of Little Genesee, N.Y.; three brothers, Edward Smith of Olean, N.Y, Marcus Smith of Wellsville, N.Y., and Micah Smith of Portville, N.Y.; three grandchildren, Brody (Kaitlin) Taylor of Shinglehouse, Honor Gross of Shinglehouse, and Emma Gross of Coudersport; and many nieces and nephews.

 

In addition to her parents, Loretta was predeceased by a daughter, Kelly S. Taylor who passed away in 2007. Private funeral services were  held today at the Virgil L. Howard Funeral Home, Shinglehouse. Burial will be in the Maple Grove Cemetery, Shinglehouse.In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the National MS Society, PO Box 91891, Washington, DC 20090-1891 or to the LEEK Hunting and Mountain Preserve, 497 Rte 244, Oswayo, PA 16915.Loretta’s family has entrusted her care to Kevin J. Dusenbury, funeral director/owner of the Virgil L. Howard Funeral Home, Shinglehouse.To express condolences or share a fond memory of Loretta, please visit www.virgillhowardfuneralhome.com or the Virgil L. Howard Funeral Home Facebook page.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Loretta J. (Smith) Gross, please visit our floral store.