NY & PA briefs

COVID-fighting robots in Wayne County, NYS Regents canceled and more

What's new in the Upper Delaware region November 12-18


PA Republicans asked AG Shapiro to recuse self

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As President Donald Trump pursues legal challenges to the election results in Pennsylvania, nine Pennsylvanian, Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives are urging Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who won reelection to a second term in this year’s election, to recuse himself in any of the election-related cases.

The representatives signed a letter, saying that there is a “conflict of interest created by Attorney General Shapiro’s dual role as political candidate and a neutral arbiter.”

“The citizens of the United States, not media outlets, determine the outcome of elections,” Rep. Fred Keller (PA-12) said in the letter. “With recounts and legal challenges expected, we must let the process play out. Count every legal vote.”

New York cancels Regents

NEW YORK STATE — NYS Interim Commissioner of Education Betty Rosa has announced that the state is canceling its January 2021 high school Regents testing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation applies to all Regents exams that had been scheduled for the January 2021 examination period.

“We determined the January Regents exams could not be safely, equitably and fairly administered across the state given where the pandemic currently stands,” Rosa said.

A number of teachers union and alliances have thanked Rosa and the Board of Regents for the decision. The Alliance for Quality Education said that the Regents exams should be reevaluated in general, and that New York should “move toward more student-centered and culturally responsive pathways to graduation.”

Wayne Memorial unveils disinfecting robots

HONESDALE, PA — Wayne Memorial’s Environmental Services Department has two new “employees,” Ultraviolet-C germ-killing robots. The machines’ light “sweeps” a room and destroys 99.9 percent of the bacteria and spores left in the room after patient discharge. 

The company’s recent studies show “its patented Sensor360 technology is effective for inactivation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on hard, nonporous surfaces.”  SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

 “These machines are very easy to use, effective, chemical-free and safe,” said Michelle Miller, manager of Environmental Services. “They can be set to kill bacteria as well as spores like C-Diff (Clostridioides difficile), and we plan to use them throughout the hospital.”

John Conte, director of Facility Services, said the hospital has been using UVC light in its air handling system for years. 

“We have a relatively low infection rate,” said Conte and Miller, “and we want to keep it that way.”

Fire at a hemp processing facility

LEBANON TOWNSHIP, PA —  A hemp processing facility on State Route 191 between Honesdale and Rileyville was damaged by a fire on the morning of Friday, November 6. The “fully-involved” commercial structure fire began at around 10 a.m.

The Equinunk Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to the scene and additional units were requested. Damascus EMS, Cottage EMS, Callicoon Fire, Northern Wayne Fire, Honesdale Fire, White Mills Fire, Hawley Fire, Pleasant Mount Fire, Seelyville Fire and Wayne County EMA. Stand-by departments at fire houses in the area and The Salvation Army for Rehab also assisted.

“Everyone involved did a phenomenal job,” Equinunk Volunteer Fire Company posted to its Facebook page.

According to reports, all of the employees working at the facility, HV Bioprocessing, got out safely, however, the building experienced some damage. The fire is believed to have started in a drying room.

New York: highest COVID-19 levels since May

NEW YORK STATE — New York has a low infection rate of COVID-19 compared to the rest of the country. However, its levels are still the highest they’ve been since March. New cases jumped by 32 percent between last week and the week prior. Hotspot areas around New York City, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier are driving the state’s increasing infection rate.

“The challenge for our state has been to manage the increase and try to ensure the spikes in other states don’t impact us too much,” Gov. Cuomo said recently. “We manage the increase by deploying the most aggressive testing in the country and our micro-cluster strategy… It’s going to take the work of all New Yorkers to ensure we don’t go back to where we were this spring.”

Wayne names new CARES recipients

HONESDALE, PA — At the November 5 meeting, the Wayne County Commissioners named three additional recipients of CARES Act funding: $6,402 to Rockwell Travel, $200 to Branko’s Patisserie du Jour and $29,284 to Four Story Hill Farm.

Commissioner Jocelyn Cramer said that the county was not issuing additional money but utilizing monies that had been distributed and then returned to the county.

“We had a handful of businesses that received funding from additional sources and returned either all or part of their award from the county,” chief clerk Andrew Seder said.

Commissioner Adams said that, in addition, the three businesses receiving funds had provided updated information and clarification to their original applications.

Honesdale councilor requests more police

HONESDALE, PA — At the November 2 Honesdale Borough Council meeting, councilor Robert Jennings made another push to hire more officers to the Honesdale Borough Police Department. Jennings has routinely expressed concerns about the fact that the borough currently only employs four full-time officers and therefore cannot be on duty 24/7. Jennings moved to approve the hiring of four new officers to the department and that the hiring be included in the borough’s 2021 budget. 

The motion died for lack of a second. Jennings said he was disappointed in the result, adding, “The safety of the people is my overriding concern, and I believe the borough needs to find the funds in next year’s budget to make this happen.”

SUNY announces spring schedule

ALBANY, NY — SUNY has announced that, for the spring semester, college students will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to campus in February. There will be no spring break.

After Thanksgiving break, students will be finishing their fall semester via online classes. After getting a negative test result, students must complete a seven-day quarantine prior to their arrival. On campus, mask-wearing will be enforced at all times, even when social distancing is taking place.

“We’ve demonstrated this past fall that, by implementing an aggressive strategy to manage COVID-19, students can safely return to campus,”  SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said in a statement.

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