Pennsylvania reports more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases; 310 deaths

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania broke a 4-day streak on Thursday, reporting more than 1,000 additional positive coronavirus cases for the first time this week.

Health officials reported 1,070 additional cases, bringing the statewide total to 52,915.

As a result to reconcile data from various sources, the state reported an additional 310 deaths. A total of 3,416 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Pennsylvania. These deaths have occurred over the past several weeks, officials said.

"As we prepare to move a number of counties from red to yellow, we need all Pennsylvanians to continue to follow the social distancing and mitigation efforts in place," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. "We must continue to protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, which includes our seniors, those with underlying health issues, our healthcare workers and our first responders. I am proud of the work that Pennsylvanians have done so far, but we cannot stop now, we must continue to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from COVID-19."

There are 209,873 patients who have tested negative to date.

Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

- Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
- Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
- 1% are aged 13-18;
- Nearly 6% are aged 19-24;
- 37% are aged 25-49;
- 26% are aged 50-64; and
- 27% are aged 65 or older.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 10,506 resident cases of COVID-19, and 1,489 cases among employees, for a total of 11,995 at 514 distinct facilities in 44 counties, health officials said. Out of the state's total deaths, 2,355 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

Approximately 3,437 of our total cases are in health care workers.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

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BACKDATED UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Self-employed people, gig workers and others not normally eligible for unemployment compensation were able to start filing backdated claims Thursday under a new federal benefits program being administered by the state of Pennsylvania.

Since March 15, more than 174,000 people have applied to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which is being administered by the state's unemployment compensation office. The state began accepting applications April 18 but wasn't able to pay benefits while it built out the system.

Work on the system was completed Thursday morning, and it is now fully operational, the Department of Labor & Industry said. Eligible workers should receive their initial payments within a week of filing their claims.

A record 1.7 million Pennsylvanians have filed for regular unemployment compensation since mid-March as the pandemic, and the state's efforts to contain it, caused economic devastation.

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MEAT PLANT WORKER DEATH LAWSUIT

The family of a meat processing plant worker who died of COVID-19 has sued the company and several affiliates, saying his death was the result of negligence in responding to the epidemic.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed in Philadelphia on Thursday concerns Enock Benjamin, who was a union shop steward at the JBS beef processing plant in Souderton, the largest facility of its kind east of Chicago.

It says he died of respiratory failure related to COVID-19 on April 3.

The lawsuit claims JBS was slow to provide personal protective equipment or to arrange its more than 1,000 workers far enough apart to avoid contagion.

Messages seeking comment were left at the plant and with a JBS spokesman.

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