Measles in Sullivan County, Empire Resorts loses $138 million and more

PA marijuana law proposed

HARRISBURG, PA — On March 18, State Sen. Daylin Leach and State Sen. Sharif Street announced legislation that would end Pennsylvania’s prohibition of cannabis and would ultimately legalize cannabis for adult-use in Pennsylvania.

“We’ve had a cruel, irrational and expensive policy on cannabis for more than 80 years,” Leach said. “Prohibition has destroyed countless lives and has cost our taxpayers millions of dollars. It’s time we walk into the bright sunshine of enlightenment and stop arresting our kids and funding violent drug cartels. This will be a tough battle, but so was passing medical marijuana. We did that, and we will do this. The stakes are too high for us to fail.”

“An end to the prohibition of cannabis is overdue,” Street said. “It is time for us to join the emerging cannabis economy with the legalization of the adult use of cannabis in PA., which should not be a crime when responsibly used by adults nor mandate medical oversight. The economic imperatives are too great. We also have a moral mandate to correct the damage that disparate enforcement of our marijuana laws has done and is still doing to communities across the commonwealth.”


Empire Resorts loses $138 million 

KIAMESHA LAKE, NY — Empire Resorts, the parent company of Resorts World Catskills casino, lost $138.7 million in 2018, according to a filing on March 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The loss in 2017 was $46.3 million.

The casino has been under-performing expectation since it opened. The operators projected it would draw in $277 million in its first year of operation, but the actual take was only $153.6 million.

The Monticello Casino and Raceway on Route 17 B meanwhile generated $32.5 million in revenue during the year compared to $60.5 million in 2017.  Empire announced it will close the raceway in April to eliminate competition with the slot machines at the new casino. The company says the harness racing operation at the track, which generated $5.3 million in 2018, will remain open.

Some analysts are questioning how long Resorts World can continue operating given the size of the losses at the gleaming new casino. In the risks section of the SEC filing, the company notes that there could be serious implications if the revenue picture does not improve. 


PADEP announces tick survey

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it is conducting a five-year environmental surveillance of ticks to assess the risk of tickborne illnesses across Pennsylvania. Funding for this project is being provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

 The survey, which started in July 2018 in coordination with county governments, is part of the Pennsylvania Lyme Disease Task Force recommendations for combatting the growing incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. It is funded annually through the state budget.

 “Lyme disease affects thousands of Pennsylvanians every year, but ticks are also known to carry other pathogens that could infect humans. This survey will provide important data that will help us better understand these arachnids in our environment and inform Pennsylvanians on how, when and where to avoid getting bitten by a disease-carrying tick,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

The survey is taking place in every county in Pennsylvania to track ticks’ habitats, life stages and peak activity levels, and to test them for human pathogenic diseases. Additionally, 38 counties are conducting a specific survey of nymphal blacklegged (Ixodes scapularis) ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease to humans.

Since July 1, 2018, the DEP collected 3,663 adult black-legged ticks for testing.


Measles in Sullivan County

LIBERTY, NY — The Sullivan County Public Health Department put out an alert March 14 that two positive cases of measles have been identified in the county.

According to the release, two people, who live primarily in Sullivan County, were contagious from March 4 to March 12. The pair also traveled and spent time in Brooklyn, where there is a measles outbreak. The county and the New York City Health Department, in conjunction with the state health department, are contacting anyone who may have interacted with the patients during the contagious period.

The department said there are no known exposures to other county residents as of yet. This information comes in the midst of an outbreak in Brooklyn and Rockland County, presumably from people deciding not to vaccinate their children for the virus. As a result, two state legislators have brought up a bill that would allow minors to receive the vaccination without their parent’s permission.

Read more about vaccines on pages 6 and 7.


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