WILKES-BARRE — City police and the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office on Friday afternoon investigated a suicide at the historic train station along South Wilkes-Barre Boulevard.

Details about the death were not released. It is the policy of the Times Leader not to report on a suicide, unless it is in a public place such as the vacant, former New Jersey Central railroad station.

Police, fire and ambulance personnel arrived at the scene around 12:10 p.m. Shortly afterward an officer strung yellow police tape between light poles around the property to restrict access to authorized personnel. The body was removed from the scene around 1:45 p.m. and the tape taken down.

The station, which has been the focus of proposed redevelopment plans, has been vacant for many years. It has been frequented by homeless people, despite efforts to secure it and prevent entry by covering window and door openings with sheets of plywood.

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Tuesday said it is reopening indoor facilities at 23 select rest areas across the state to all motorists, including the 13 facilities in critical locations that were reopened March 18 with portable restrooms and handwashing facilities.

PennDOT’s 30 rest areas were temporarily closed statewide on March 17 in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s mitigation guidance regarding COVID-19 to ensure that proper safety and sanitation protocols were in place.

“While unnecessary travel is discouraged as we all do our part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we understand that some trips are necessary and that access to rest areas is important,” acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said in a press release. “We are constantly evaluating our actions and services in responding to this emergency and will make adjustments where we can safely do so.”

The department will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened.

MADRID — This summer’s Tokyo Olympics fell victim to the coronavirus crisis Tuesday as the death toll mounted rapidly in Europe and the United States, while American lawmakers closed in on a nearly $2 trillion deal to blunt the outbreak’s economic damage.

The International Olympic Committee postponed the Olympics until 2021 on the recommendation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, adding the games to the long roster of sports events disrupted by the deadly outbreak.

In Washington, top congressional and White House officials said they expected to reach a deal Tuesday on a measure to shore up businesses and send relief checks to ordinary Americans. Stocks rallied around the world on the news, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging more 1,100 points, or over 6 percent, in early trading.

President Donald Trump urged swift action, tweeting: “Congress must approve the deal, without all of the nonsense, today. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to start up our economy.”

Meanwhile, Spain started storing bodies in an ice rink converted to a morgue, and the World Health Organization warned that infections around the globe are expected to increase “considerably.”

Some 85% of new infections came from Europe and the United States, according to the WHO, with Spain registering a record daily increase of 6,584 new infections and a leap of 500 in the death toll to 2,696.

In Madrid, vans driven by workers in protective suits and masks brought bodies to the Palacio de Hielo — Ice Palace — mall to store at its indoor skating rink until they can be buried or cremated after other facilities became overwhelmed.

Spanish army troops disinfecting elderly nursing homes discovered elderly people living amid the bodies of suspected coronavirus victims. Prosecutors launched an investigation.

The Spanish capital last week adapted two hotels to serve as emergency hospitals to help with the overflow of COVID-19 patients. It plans to convert five more. The city has also set up a field hospital.

“All over the country, you see examples of workers inventing homemade suits using plastics,” said Olga Mediano, a lung specialist at a hospital in Guadalajara, a city east of Madrid. “The protective suits are fundamental because without health workers we won’t be able to do anything.”

More than 387,000 people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus and more than 16,700 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. But for some older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. More than 101,000 people have recovered, including more than 60,000 in China.

In Geneva, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris cited a “glimmer of hope” in hard-hit Italy after two days of slight declines in the number of new cases and deaths, while cautioning it’s “early days yet” — and the trend needed to be monitored.

In another positive sign, Chinese authorities said they would finally end a two-month lockdown in hard-hit Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak first began.

Still, Harris said the scope of the global outbreak was “enormous” and that cases were expected to increase “considerably.”

“Just to put it in proportion: It took two years in the worst Ebola outbreak we ever had, the West African outbreak, to reach 11,000 deaths,” Harris said.

There have been more than 46,000 infections and 530 deaths in the U.S. as the virus continues to spread.

In New York, now one of the world’s biggest virus hot spots, authorities rushed to set up the thousands of hospital beds they will need in just weeks to protect the city’s 8.4 million people.

In Italy, Spain and France, the pandemic has already pushed national health systems to their breaking points.

The outbreak has killed more than 6,000 Italians, the highest death toll of any country. Officials said Monday the virus had claimed just over 600 more lives, down from 793 two days earlier.

Amid the spiking numbers in Spain, relatives of elderly people and retirement homes’ workers are expressing growing concern about the situation in retirement homes across Spain, especially in Madrid.

“We live in anguish, we have no information whatsoever,” said Esther Navarro, whose 97-year-old mother with Alzheimer is at the Residencia Usera in Madrid where some of the cases have been identified.

Confusion rippled through Britain on the first morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week halt to all nonessential activity. The government has told most stores to close, banned gatherings of three or more people and said everyone apart from essential workers should leave home only to buy food and medicines or to exercise. But photos showed crowded trains Tuesday on some London subway lines.

“I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted. “Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.”

The Philippine Congress approved a bill declaring a national emergency and authorizing President Rodrigo Duterte to launch a massive aid program and tap private hospitals and ships to help as the virus outbreak starts to take hold in the Pacific nation, which has reported 552 cases.

Pakistan ordered its railways shutdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus as cases climbed to 903. Bangladesh, with only 39 infections, also shut down all passenger rail as a precaution and suspended all domestic flights.

In contrast to other European nations, German health authorities offered some hope that the country has flattened the exponential spread of the virus, which has already infected some 30,000.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government approved a massive new aid package to cushion the economic fallout of the outbreak, offering more than 1 trillion euros ($1.1 trillion) to tide over small companies and entrepreneurs and pump capital into bigger companies.

The death rate in Germany has been low, with 130 recorded so far, and Germany has taken in patients from France and Italy for treatment.

PITTSTON — With the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania increasing daily, VIA Public Media will present Keystone Edition: Corona Crisis — a live, hour-long virtual town hall meeting with area health experts and government officials on Thursday, March 26, at 8 p.m.

While there will be no in-studio audience, viewers will have the opportunity to call in or email questions to get answers and learn the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic.

Viewers can call — 800-326-9842 during the live program, or email questions ahead of time to info@wvia.org, or submit questions through social media using #VIAcoronacrisis.

Hosted by VIA Radio Program Director Larry Vojtko, panelists for the program include Gerald Maloney, D.O., Chief Medical Officer for Geisinger Hospitals, and associate dean for clinical affairs for Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine; Dr. James Cruse, a family medicine doctor in Honesdale; Shubhra Shetty, M.D., FACP, an infectious disease specialist, professor of medicine, and associate dean at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Scranton; Dr. Donna Eget from Medicus Urgent Care in Dunmore; Brett Sholtis, a health reporter from WITF in Harrisburg; and DeeAnn Reeder, Ph.D., Professor of Biology at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.

The program will also feature interviews with Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health; David Pedri, Luzerne County Manager; and Tom Foley, Director of PA 2-1-1 Northeast.

The program will be simulcast on WVIA-TV, WVIA Radio, the Pennsylvania Cable Network and will stream live online at wvia.org, as well as WVIA’s Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin and Twitter channels.

The program will be available to watch anytime after the broadcast on-demand at wvia.org and on the VIA Mobile App.

For more information on Keystone Edition: Corona Crisisand to access VIA’s Coronavirus Resource Information Page as well as Learn At Homeresources for parents and educators, please visit wvia.org.

WILKES-BARRE — Property owners in the city are getting more time to pay their 2020 real estate tax with the help of an executive order issued Monday by Mayor George Brown.

The mayor adjusted the payment schedule by 30 days in response to the disruptions to jobs, paychecks and daily life caused by the coronavirus.

Initially Brown asked city council to act on his recommendation just as it did when it extended his state of emergency last Friday.

“What we’re doing is, I’m looking at our resources of the city and how can I best help the residents. So that’s why my recommendation is, to extend the payments for the taxes and give people that may not be working or are not making the income they made before some breathing room,” Brown said during council’s special session in the parking lot of City Hall on March 20.

City Hall and other buildings were closed to the public in order to comply with health and safety guidance issued in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The mayor’s recommendation was not included on the agenda for the special session, so it could not be voted on at the time and potentially set the stage for another meeting.

But City Council Chairman Bill Barrett said that after consulting with City Attorney Tim Henry Monday it was determined the meeting was unnecessary. Barrett said Henry felt it was within the mayor’s power to extend the payment deadline by executive order. “It just doesn’t require our approval,” Barrett said.

SCRANTON — A University of Scranton student who participated in Parade Day parties earlier this month has tested positive for COVID-19, school President Rev. Scott R. Pilarz announced Monday.

It is not clear where or precisely when the student contracted the virus, Pilarz wrote in a letter posted to the university’s website, but the individual attended student gatherings on 400 block of Clay Avenue in Scranton on March 14.

While the city’s popular St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held as usual that day, many bars remained open and parties were held across Scranton. Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing non-essential businesses statewide had not yet been issued at that time.

The student first developed symptoms late last week, getting tested for COVID-19 after consulting a physician. The test was positive. The student, who lives off campus, is recovering from symptoms at home, Pilarz added.

“Even though we have known that the coronavirus could and would touch our community, this is certainly difficult news to receive, causing anxiety and fear. It is the reason behind the precautions we have taken and continue to take as we try to cope with this unprecedented situation,” Pilarz wrote.

“We must and will continue to practice social distancing and try to minimize the risk to all members of our community. We will continue to support faculty, staff, and administrators as we work remotely to minimize the number of those on campus and teach courses remotely at least through the end of Easter break,” he added.

An employee at Tobyhanna Army Depot, the region’s largest employer, has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The depot, located in Monroe County, reported on its Facebook page Monday that a civilian employee who works in Building 20 tested positive for the virus.

There was no answer to the depot’s Public Affairs office Monday afternoon to inquire about the Facebook post, which was signed by Col. John W. McDonald.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the region’s largest employer, with approximately 4,500 workers many of whom live in Luzerne County.

“The individual last reported for duty, utilizing entrances to Building 20 that are not accessible by the general depot population on Friday, March 13, 2020,” the Facebook post says.

The post continues, “The individual was experiencing flu-like symptoms which prompted them to take sick leave since they last reported for duty. Upon learning that the employee was symptomatic, the supervisor took all necessary steps to begin clear and trace procedures to sanitize the work area. The work area was sanitized on the morning of Monday, March 16, 2020.”

The post says the source of contraction of the virus remains unknown and the individual has not reported to the depot in more than 10 days and had minimal contact with the depot population.

“The individual has been hospitalized since Friday, March 20, 2020 and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts,” the post says.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera sent out a notice to administrators on Monday extending the statewide school closure to April 6.

While everything remains fluid as the pandemic progresses, Rivera announced tentative plans to reopen schools April 7 so administrators, teachers and staff can prepare classrooms, cafeteria and transportation arrangements.

The state’s 29 Intermediate Units, set up by the state to provide a variety of education services to the districts in their boundaries, are providing technical help in setting up continuity of education plans beginning today.

Area district superintendents have repeatedly expressed a desire to provide some level of education at home, either online or by sending things to parent, but have generally been reluctant to start a specific program without state guidance. Most had prepared to provide some instruction via the Internet using tools they already use in school such as Google Classroom.

On Monday, Hazleton Area School District Superintendent Brian Uplinger sent out a notice that the district is “refraining from requiring any instruction for any of our students.”

The reason is a concern he and others had expressed before schools were ordered closed: equity in instruction.

“There are a number of issues when trying to provide instruction to all students. We are required to adhere to specific regulations with respect to special education students, English Language Learners and regular education students,” Uplinger wrote, adding that “to continue to keep our students ready to return (should that happen) providing resources that are available on our homepage at www.hasdk12.org.”

Lake-Lehman sent out a text advising the district is finalizing plans to help with continuity of education, saying the district anticipates a student Chromebooks/work packet pick up “early next week.” The district has also been posting educational resources on the district website, llsd.org, under LATEST NEWS.

The state also canceled all standardized tests for this school year administered in Career and Technical Centers. Most CTCs require students to take the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute exams, while some offer the National Institute of Metalworking Skills tests. Last week, Rivera announced cancellation of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests given in grades three through eight, and the Keystone exams given in three subjects in high school.

The Lackawanna County Coroner’s Office has confirmed the death of a man as a result of contracting COVID-19.

The coroner’s office says the individual was a 79-year-old man, who was admitted to the Geisinger Community Medical Center on March 10, and died shortly after midnight on Monday.

Other details about the individual are not being released by the coroner’s office, other than the fact that the man suffered from “numerous” pre-existing health issues that placed him at the highest risk of dying from the virus.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday confirmed that there are 165 additional positive cases of COVID-19 — Luzerne County now has 10 — and one new death in Montgomery County, bringing the statewide total to 644 in 34 counties.

NEWPORT TWP. — Township police arrested Scott A. Slominski on allegations he shot and killed a dog after a fight with his wife, according to court records.

Police found a deceased mixed Pit bull/Mastiff, about 18 months old, at Slominski’s residence on West Main Avenue at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday. A second dog, a Boxer, was not harmed, police said.

A .357-caliber revolver loaded with five rounds was recovered by police. Two spent shell casings were also recovered.

Slominski told police he shot the dog because the two dogs were fighting but his wife, Shannon Slominski claimed her husband shot the dog because he was drinking and she left the house during an argument, court records say.

Police responded to Slominski’s house for a report he shot a dog. When officers arrived, they learned Slominski and his wife had been involved in domestic dispute prior to the shooting.

Slominski told police he shot the dog because the dogs were fighting. He became aggressive and charged at an officer before he was arrested and placed in the back seat of a cruiser.

Police in the complaint say Slominski repeatedly kicked the door, causing it to push away from the vehicle frame.

Shannon Slominski told police they were fighting because he was was drinking and was intoxicated. She also stated he was “acting like an a—hole,” the complaint says.

After Slominski calmed down, he claimed he shot the dog because the dogs were fighting. He told police, “I shot my dog,” and “what did I do, I shot my dog,” the complaint says.

Slominski was charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals and a misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals. He was arraigned by District Judge Joseph Carmody in West Pittston and released on $7,500 unsecured bail.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf today ordered residents of the state’s hardest-hit areas to stay home to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus that has already sickened hundreds and caused several deaths statewide.

Wolf issued the stay-at-home order for Philadelphia and its surrounding counties; Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh; and Monroe County.

Wolf has imposed a series of progressively tougher measures in the face of a global pandemic that state officials say threatens to swamp hospitals and spike the death toll. The governor has already closed schools and ordered all “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shutter their physical locations, an edict that state police and other government agencies began enforcing Monday morning after Wolf beat back a pair of legal challenges.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged Wolf’s authority to shutter businesses deemed nonessential.

Without comment, a narrow majority of the state’s high court late Sunday denied the petition by a gun shop, a gun purchaser and a law firm to have Wolf’s shutdown order thrown out. The lawsuit had claimed Wolf’s edict violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms and other constitutional rights.

The court said a separate legal challenge to Wolf’s order to close law offices had become moot because of subsequent action that lets lawyers work from their physical locations to perform duties deemed essential by county or federal judges.

The Democratic governor has ordered all nonessential businesses to close their physical locations indefinitely, saying the measure is needed to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

In a dissenting statement joined by two other justices, Justice David Wecht said Wolf’s order amounts to “an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this commonwealth — a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment” and the state constitution. He called on Wolf to make some allowance for the in-person sale of firearms.

Wolf’s order to close down the physical locations of businesses deemed not essential to sustain life is being enforced as of Monday morning.

The Wolf administration has been sorting through nearly 10,000 waiver requests, saying their only consideration is health and safety.

State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said Monday that troopers are aiming at voluntary compliance, “not coming in with a hammer at 8:01” a.m., when the enforcement period began.

Tarkowski said people who want to report a business that remains open should use non-emergency numbers to call state police or local police. “Please don’t call 911,” Tarkowski said.

Businesses that remain open to the public include grocery stores, pharmacies, hotels and motels, beer distributors, laundromats and gas stations. Restaurants are only open for take-out orders. The open list also includes farms, mines, food production and some manufacturing.

Car dealers, clothing stores and other retailers, salons and entertainment venues are among those on the shuttered list.

On Monday, Pennsylvania officials extended the closure of facilities in state parks and forests until April 30. People with reservations for campgrounds, cabins and other overnight accommodations will get refunds.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said trails, lakes, forests, roads and parking areas remain open to the public, but urged people to practice social distancing and avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads.

Pennsylvania health officials on Monday reported 165 new cases of COVID-19 infection in Pennsylvania, for a total of more than 640 in 34 counties.

Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland confirmed the death of a 79-year-old man late Sunday, bringing the state’s overall death toll to four.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

The state House of Representatives began a non-voting session Monday, and the speaker assigned proposals to get emergency assistance for small businesses and to allow for electronic notarization of documents to committees. The State Government Committee planned to meet to consider legislation regarding the April 28 primary, which could be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t call Luzerne County 911 unless you have a life-threatening emergency, the department reminded residents Monday.

The directive is necessary to “ensure everyone has access to critical emergency services” during the coronavirus pandemic, 911 Executive Director Fred Rosencrans said in a release.

County Manager C. David Pedri had pointed out this reminder also was posted on the county’s Facebook site due to a recent state Department of Health and Emergency Management Agency alert.

People should call 911 if they are confused/disoriented/dizzy or have the following problems: difficulty breathing/choking, an allergic reaction, symptoms of a heart attack/stroke, difficulty speaking/walking/seeing or sudden and severe pain, the state alert says.

“As always, if you are experiencing an immediate medical or non-medical emergency, dial 911,” Rosencrans wrote.

However, 911 should not be called if residents want information about the coronavirus, need a ride to the doctor’s office, want to get tested or have mild symptoms, the alert said.

For more information about coronavirus, visit health.pa.gov or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

Also, residents seeking to report establishments not compliant with Gov. Tom Wolf’s closure of non-life sustaining businesses should contact the non-emergency number of the local or state police covering that area, it said.

WILKES-BARRE — Department of Corrections (DOC) Sec. John Wetzel Monday announced that, on Saturday, March 28, officials will begin the temporary use of the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Retreat as the reception facility for new male commitments to the DOC and for male parole violators.

“Currently, we have no positive cases of COVID-19 in our state prison inmate population, and we are working to delay the virus entering our system,” Wetzel said. “This change in how we receive newly sentenced inmates and parole violators will reduce the number of ways individuals enter our system. With this plan, moving forward, only one facility will be involved, greatly reducing the ways the virus can enter our system.”

Following an intake quarantine period at SCI Retreat, the new commitments will be sent to SCI Camp Hill for classification and evaluation.

In preparation for this major change, Wetzel sent a letter to all county prisons informing them that the DOC is pausing new commitments for several days. He also informed sheriffs through a conference call.

While new commitments and PV returns are delayed, DOC officials will take the opportunity to reduce the inmate population at SCI Retreat by transferring inmates to other state prisons, while leaving a number of inmates to work in dietary and maintenance areas. Officials also are increasing the medical staff and medical supplies at this facility.

Wetzel said the DOC receives approximately 150 new male commitments and parole violator returns statewide each week.

“We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact this virus will have on our system,” Wetzel said. “All ideas are being considered.”

Wetzel said that the overarching goal is to safely and responsibly reduce the prison system’s population while minimizing the risk that new commitments present by localizing their commitment at a site that will be set up to quarantine by commitment cohorts, with staff equipped in personal protective equipment.

Female new commitments will continue to be received at SCIs Muncy and Cambridge Springs. However, moving forward Muncy only will accept new commitments weekly on Tuesday and Thursday.

“As always, the good people of Newport Township and Luzerne County step up in a time of need, and this time it is the Department of Corrections that needs to put SCI Retreat back in service to house state inmates who are currently being housed at county correctional facilities.

“The Pennsylvania DOC has assured us all precautions will be taken to ensure the employees of SCI Retreat and the public will be safe during the transfer and housing of these inmates. We are all in this crisis together, and together we will come through it stronger than ever.”

SCI Retreat has been transitioning to close for several weeks, with inmates and staff being reassigned. Yudichak said the new operation is temporary for now through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, but could be extended.

According to the most recent state statistics, Retreat employed 384 people and had a prison population of 942 as of Dec. 31. Yudichak and other state and county legislators have stated the closing of SCI Retreat would have a significant negative impact on the region’s economy.

Wetzel also commended his DOC and parole supervision employees. “It is an honor it is to be in the trenches with the best team in the business,” Wetzel said. “They all are doing an incredible job in the midst of impossible circumstances. I am just overwhelmingly grateful.”

While county prisons are not under the jurisdiction of the DOC, Wetzel also expressed his gratitude to county corrections staff across the state and also for the sheriffs who transport inmates to the state prison system. “Everyone is doing a great job working together to do whatever is necessary to mitigate the impact COVID-19 has on our systems,” he said.

WILKES-BARRE — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Luzerne County has more than doubled, with 21 cases now being reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Tuesday said it is reopening indoor facilities at 23 select rest areas across the state to all motorists, including the 13 facilities in critical locations that were reopened March 18 with portable restrooms and handwashing facilities.

MADRID — This summer’s Tokyo Olympics fell victim to the coronavirus crisis Tuesday as the death toll mounted rapidly in Europe and the United States, while American lawmakers closed in on a nearly $2 trillion deal to blunt the outbreak’s economic damage.

PITTSTON — With the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania increasing daily, VIA Public Media will present Keystone Edition: Corona Crisis — a live, hour-long virtual town hall meeting with area health experts and government officials on Thursday, March 26, at 8 p.m.

WILKES-BARRE — Property owners in the city are getting more time to pay their 2020 real estate tax with the help of an executive order issued Monday by Mayor George Brown.

SCRANTON — A University of Scranton student who participated in Parade Day parties earlier this month has tested positive for COVID-19, school President Rev. Scott R. Pilarz announced Monday.

An employee at Tobyhanna Army Depot, the region’s largest employer, has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera sent out a notice to administrators on Monday extending the statewide school closure to April 6.

The Lackawanna County Coroner’s Office has confirmed the death of a man as a result of contracting COVID-19.

NEWPORT TWP. — Township police arrested Scott A. Slominski on allegations he shot and killed a dog after a fight with his wife, according to court records.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf today ordered residents of the state’s hardest-hit areas to stay home to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus that has already sickened hundreds and caused several deaths statewide.

Don’t call Luzerne County 911 unless you have a life-threatening emergency, the department reminded residents Monday.

As we continue to process how the latest novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is affecting us across our country and throughout our neighborhoods, we have encountered some clear challenges, from restrictions to social and commercial interaction to shortages in products needed for both maintaining daily life and practicing modern medicine.

Last Monday’s announcement from Gov. Tom Wolf left many wondering why bars and restaurants were ordered to close.

WILKES-BARRE — As I walked into a grocery store the other day, I noticed a lot of people coming out with jumbo packs of today’s hottest commodity — toilet paper.

WILKES-BARRE — The Department of Human Services this week implemented a series of proactive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of residents and staff at Pennsylvania’s state centers, state hospitals, youth development centers, and youth forestry camps.

The current unfortunate situation with the coronavirus is an example of how technology could better serve the residents of Pennsylvania by completing important business transactions remotely.

“Social-distancing” is the phrase of the day, and what it pretty much means is staying away from people while America shuts down, the economy gets clobbered and death seeks out at a million, maybe 2 million of us. The issue is coronavirus, the fear is contagion and a primary solution is surcease of human contact to the extent of no more sporting events, church services, restaurant visits, school attendance, parades, weddings or even shaking hands.

Never before has a public-health emergency created such widespread economic paralysis. As government officials work to slow the spread of the coronavirus, treat the afflicted, and save lives, it is essential that Congress and the president take immediate actions to stabilize a dangerously teetering economy and lay the groundwork for long-term recovery.

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WASHINGTON — As we teeter on the edge of economic collapse with the worst pandemic in a century likely to get much worse, we are seeing the good, the bad and the ugly. In spades.

This is a serious pandemic and if you are following recommended protocol it is impacting your life through shortages, business closings, loss of entertainment options, children unexpectedly at home, and even job loss.

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