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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

All You Need to Know About Your Stimulus Check

(Blogger's Note: This comes directly from the IRS. If you have not included your direct deposit information, the IRS will enable you to register for direct deposit so you can avoid snail mail.)

Check IRS.gov for the latest information: No action needed by most people at this time

IR-2020-61, March 30, 2020
WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.
Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.
For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?

Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?

IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.

I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?

Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?

For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

Where can I get more information?

The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.
The IRS has a reduced staff in many of its offices but remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. Check for updated information on IRS.gov/coronavirus rather than calling IRS assistors who are helping process 2019 returns.

NorCo Council Cancels April 2 Meeting

Northampton County Council President Ron Heckman has canceled the meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 2, at 6:30 pm. The Human Services and Economic Development Committees, who were also poised to convene that date, have also been scratched. Heckman is discussing the possibility of a video meeting with the County's outside IT provider.

Under the terms of the Home Rule Charter, Council must meet at least twice every month, and during different weeks.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

NorCo Courthouse To Remain Closed Until At Least April 6

NorCo Exec Lamont McClure has extended the closure of the Northampton County Courthouse to the public until at least April 6.

“All County offices remain open to serve our residents but, in the interest of mitigating the spread of this virus, the Courthouse will be closed to the public except for emergency actions,” he said. “The Courthouse will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Emergency actions include:

· Anyone who needs to post bail. This includes a bondsman or a third party surety.

· Any person and their legal representative(s) having business before the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County. (For questions as to whether you are required to appear, call Court Administration at 610-829-6700).

· Any person needing to make an application for a ‘Protection from Abuse’ order.

· Any person and/or their legal representative who believes, in good faith, that a statute of limitations pertaining to them may expire within the month.

Has Covid-19 Come to NorCo's Jail?

Northampton County reported late yesterday afternoon that an employee at the jail has exhibited "a symptom" consistent with coronovirus. This staffer, e female corrections officer, has been sent home pending the outcome of a test for Covid-19. The area of the jail in which she worked has been placed in quarantine. Although it's unclear precisely that means at the county jail, a state quarantine imposed Monday on its entire inmate population of 44,600 means they will be restricted to their cells except for video and phone calls.

A prison administrator informs me that "hundreds and hundreds" of hand sanitizer are made available to corrections officers, and they are also provided masks if requested. Their temperatures are also monitored.

On Friday, a staffer at Allegheny County jail tested positive for Covid-19.

At this juncture, there are no reported cases of Covid-19 at Gracedale, the county's nursing home. An isolation unit has been prepared for residents who show symptoms.

In related news, the county's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been partially activated to assist in the potential creation of alternative care facilities or field hospitals if such a measure is necessary.

Monday, March 30, 2020

When Pa. Citizens Need State Gov't the Most, Wolf Lays Off 2,500

As a result of Governor Tom Wolf's business shutdowns and Shelter-in-Place orders, the state has experienced a record number of unemployment claims and requests for other benefits like food assistance. So what does he do? He lays off 2,500 state workers, many of who are there to fill in the gaps in departments that are overloaded. Brilliant.

Wolf's Questionable Waivers

Last week, SpotlightPA revealed that businesses tied to Governor Tom Wolf and a top Pa. State Senator quickly closed their doors after reporters began asking questions. One of these businesses, Wolf Home Products, was placed in a "blind trust" by Wolf after he was elected, but it appears his cousin and a business associate manage it. The other business is a candy shop owned by by powerful State Senator Joe Scarnati, a Republican. It appears to me that waives depend mostly on connections. I say this because the Wolf administration has thus far refused to be transparent about what businesses have been granted waivers. We know 4,000 have been granted, but his secretive Department of Community and Economic Development has refused to identify them. In fact, these hacks from the land of midnight payraises don't even bother to provide any guidelines. This has prompted Leb Town to request that Wolf "instruct the Department of Community and Economic Development to immediately release the internal rubric or other guidance being used to evaluate waiver requests and the full list of companies that have been granted waivers."

If you have a business and would like a waiver, you can complete this form with the DCED and wait for Hell to freeze over. It would be smarter to complete the form AND ask your local State Rep. AND State Senator to grease the skids for you.

How One Gym Was Able to Stay Open

Let's say you own a gym. Well, when Governor Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors, that meant you. It mattered not whether the services you provide go a long way to improving the physical health, including immune system, of your customers. No consideration was given to precautions that could be taken to ensure a social distance between patrons and avoid any contagion. Most gyms closed their doors, but Allentown's Matryx Performance sought and obtained a waiver. Here's what this gym is doing:

- All surfaces and highly frequented areas will be regularly cleaned and sanitized
- All athletes will be required to remove their shoes (as always) and wash their hands before beginning training
- Training session sign-ups will be limited so that there are no more than 10 athletes in the main training area or wrestling room at a time
- Athletes will be required to wipe down and sanitize each piece of equipment after use
- All athletes will be guided through their training sessions to maintain proper social distancing
- We will not be providing any physical adjustments to athletes
- Please sign up using our online scheduler in our bio

Other gyms could easily follow suit, and simply require customers to schedule ahead.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Gracedale Staffer Has Covid-19

A Gracedale Nursing Home staffer has tested positive for Covid-19. At this time, no Gracedale resident has tested positive for COVID-19.

Gracedale is working with the PA Department of Health and following all recommended protocols. An isolation ward has been prepared should any of the residents begin to show signs of the virus.

Residents and all employees at the nursing home are regularly monitored for signs and symptoms of Covid-19. All staff and residents have their temperatures checked multiple times a day and every resident has their vital signs, including oxygen saturation, measured at least once a day.

Gracedale was closed to volunteers and visitors on March 11th.

SpotlightPA: Wolf Granted Waiver to His Former Company

Tom Wolf, who ran as the reform candidate, is obviously a hypocrite. Check this in Spotlight PA.

Coronavirus Officials: Data Do Not Support Worst-Case Scenarios

As public health officials gain more knowledge about coronavirus, they are beginning to realize the data do not support some of the worst-caase scenarios presented by Chicken Littles. Moreover, they have rejected some assertions made by media outlets and some elected officials.

DR. DEBORAH BRIX: I'm sure you have seen the recent report out of the U.K. about them adjusting completely their needs. This is really quite important. If you remember, that was the report that says there would be 500,000 deaths in the U.K. and 2.2 million deaths in the United States. They've adjusted that number in the U.K. to 20,000. Half a million to 20,000. We are looking at that in great detail to understand that adjustment.

I'm going to say something that is a little bit complicated but do it in a way we can understand it together. In the model, either you have to have a large group of people who a-asymptomatic, who never presented for any test to have the kind of numbers predicted. To get to 60 million people infected, you have to have a large group of a-symptomatics. We have not seen an attack rate over 1 in 1,000. So either we are measuring the iceberg and underneath it, are a large group of people. So we are working hard to get the antibody test and figure out who these people are and do they exist. Or we have the transmission completely wrong.

So these are the things we are looking at, because the predictions of the model don't match the reality on the ground in China, South Korea or Italy. We are five times the size of Italy. If we were Italy and did all those divisions, Italy should have close to 400,000 deaths. They are not close to achieving that.

It's our job collectively to assure the American people, it's our job to make sure that doesn't happen. You can see the cases are concentrated in highly urban areas and there are other parts of the states that have lots of ventilators and other parts of New York state that don't have any infected. We can meet the needs by being responsive.

There is no model right now -- no reality on the ground where we can see that 60% to 70% of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks. I want to be clear about that. We are adapting to the reality on the ground and looking at the models of how they can inform but learning from South Korea and Italy and from Spain and I know you will look up my numbers.

Earlier this week, I contended we are overreacting to this virus and that we should rely on science and logic, not mass hysteria. Certainly, people should be vigilant. This is not the flu. But it is not the bubonic plague, either. Shutting down the entire economy is an over-reaction.

Nazareth Police Officer Charged With DUI

Nazareth police officer Randall Pompei, 38, has been charged by Emmaus police with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.16 or higher. The charges, filed March 24, are the result of a vehicle stop on St. Patrick's Day.

Pompei has been a full-time police officer in Nazareth since 2016 and may also be employed part-time in Palmer Tp. He has also worked for Nazareth Ambulance Corps.

From what I have been told by other officers, Pompei was uncooperative and arrogant when stopped. That may just be an indication he was intoxicated.

Most people, even police officers, are permitted to apply for ARD (accelerated rehabilitative disposition) for a first offense DUI.

I have no respect for Pompei's anti-union attitude and believe he was hired precisely because he's a union buster. But I do believe he's entitled to the same break that should be afforded to anyone. If this were a second offense, he'd have to be cut loose. Let me share this story about Pompei from 2015, when he was still part-time:

"In the winter months of 2015 Officer Pompei and two Officers from the Upper Nazareth Township Police Department were summoned to a residence off of Liberty St. for a report of a male sleeping in his vehicle. Upon Officers making contact with the male, Officers were advised that the male was homeless and had nowhere to go. Officer Pompei and the Officers from the UNTPD quickly jumped into action to help the male in any way they could. It was a very cold evening and the Officers were concerned for the male’s safety. Officers made numerous phone calls and gave a relentless effort in contacting multiple Shelters in an attempt to find the male a place to go before finally finding shelter for the male at the Allentown Rescue Mission. Upon doing so and after speaking with the male it was discovered that the male had little to no gas in his vehicle and had not eaten for some time. Officer Pompei and the two Officers from the UNTPD escorted the male to 7-11 in Upper Nazareth Township and filled his tank with gas and purchased approximately $50.00 in food and beverages. One of the Officers from the UNTPD also purchased the male a $20.00 gift card from the Giant Food Store in Lower Nazareth to be utilized at a later date. On this day all three Officers showed a generous act of kindness to this man in need, and showed what our fine Officers In the Nazareth area are all about."

A guy like that deserves a break.

Donald Trump vs Jesus Christowitz on Easter PPV

He's also going to rename Good Friday. It will be Great Friday.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

PFA Offices Report No Spike in Domestic Violence ... Yet

Throughout the past week, Governor Tom Wolf has issued a number of directives aimed at combating the Covid-19 virus. They have also shut down Pennsylvania's economy. On March 16, he directed all nonessential businesses to close throughout the state. Then, on March 19, he issued an executive order closing all but life-saving businesses. He's issued a "stay at home" order that now includes both Northampton and Lehigh County. These edicts mean most of us are at home, day and night. Has this resulted in a sudden spike in domestic violence complaints? Not yet. But according to Turning Point Executive Director Lori Szywensky, it's only a matter of time.

Northampton County's Protection from Abuse office said business is "steady," but a little lighter than it was before the courthouse closed to the public. Lehigh County Court Administrator Kerry Turtzo agreed the number of complaints coming in are the same as they were before Wolf's orders. "There hasn't been a sudden spike," he said.

Lori Szywensky, Turning Point's Executive Director, however, warns that it's coming. She acknowledged her office is actually getting less calls than they were before the shutdowns. But she suggested that many victims are afraid or unable to call when stuck in the home with their abusers.

She said she and other domestic violence victim advocates have looked into what happened in China, South Korea and Italy. She indicated complaints initially drop off, and then there's a sudden surge.

She's ready, and her office is fully staffed.

My Corona

NorCo Council Should Consider Zoom For Its April 2 Meeting

West Easton Borough Council President Matt Dees, one of few elected officials who maintains a blog, is leaning heavily towards trying the online platform Zoom for the next borough council meeting on April 13. By that time, Governor Tom Wolf's "stay at home" order will have expired. But Northampton County's next Council meeting is scheduled on April 2, while Wolf's order is still in effect. That meeting can still take place if it takes place on Zoom. Moreover, the public can even participate, something that's impossible during a meeting broadcast on Youtube.

My first experience with Zoom came during an online class earlier this week. I was invited to speak to a journalism class, apparently as an example of what can go wrong. The class instructor is almost as dumb as I, yet was able to pull it off quite easily.

Dees checked with the PSAB (Pennsylvania Ass'n of Boroughs) and was advised that, while meetings at a public building are always preferable, an electronic meeting that permits the public to participate complies with the state Sunshine Act. It is recommended that the meeting be recorded as well.

Zoom does both.

West Easton is going to experiment with Zoom first, but NorCo lacks that luxury.

Council President Ron Heckman is considering this option for the next meeting. The link to the meeting could be posted on the county website and at the meeting room for anyone who decides to come.

The cost is free for a meeting that lasts 40 minutes. A Council meeting would probably be best at $15 per month. The recording is an mp4, which can then be uploaded to Youtube.

Update (11:05 am): Matt Dees reports that the state legislature is moving swiftly to expressly authorize online public meetings. The House has passed a bill. The Senate must follow suit and the Governor must sign on.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Updated: Governor Wolf Issues "Stay-at-Home" Order in NorCo and Lehigh

From Northampton County: Governor Tom Wolf issued a Stay-at-Home order for Northampton County which begins March 25, 2020 at 8:00 PM. To protect the public health and to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus or COVID-19, all residents are urged to stay in their homes and only go out for essential life sustaining services. The order will be in effect until April 6, 2020. It does not apply to businesses or projects that have received waivers.

All County offices remain open although certain facilities, such as the Courthouse, Gracedale and the Northampton County Prison, are closed to the public. The Courthouse is open for people who need emergency services such as Protection-from-Abuse orders and other court required actions.

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
To care for a family member or pet in another household
Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
Travel required by law enforcement or court order
Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.

The following operations are exempt:

Life-sustaining business activities
Health care or medical services providers
Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders
News media
Law enforcement
The federal government
Religious institutions

Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.

International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.

At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.

Bethlehem Closes City Hall

From Bethlehem: Based on Governor Wolf’s “Stay at Home” order issued for Northampton and Lehigh Counties, Bethlehem City Hall will be closed to the public effective 4:30 pm today, Wednesday, March 25, 2020 until further notice.

City Hall will remain operational but closed to the public. City employees will be available to assist residents via phone and email. Until further notice, residents should access information and conduct business by using the City’s website (www.bethlehem-pa.gov).

Bethlehem residents concerned with businesses operating in violation of the shutdown, are requested to call the Bethlehem Service Center at 610-865-7000. Do not call 911 for this issue.

Please monitor the City’s website www.bethlehem-pa.gov and social media for additional information including closures of City facilities, postponement of public meetings and updates on COVID-19.

Allentown City Hall

Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell closed City Hall to the public this afternoon after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a “Stay at Home” order for Lehigh and Northampton counties effective at 8:00 p.m.

The closings are in effect until April 6.

More than 800-persons have died in the United States from COVID-19, nearly 200 of them in New York City.

(Updated 5:37 pm)

NorCo Experiences 3d Covid-19 Death

According to the latest Pa. DOH update, Northampton County has experienced its third Covid-19 death. The number of cases has reached 44. Lehigh County has no deaths and 38 cases

Coronavirus - Option "B"

Covid-19 v. 1918 "Spanish" Flu Pandemic

One of my readers loves to research. For reasons I'd rather not know, he has the death records spanning the last Pandemic of 1918. It's been called the Spanish Flu, although it may actually have started here in the good old USA. My reader also has the obituary data from the Easton Express covering this pandemic between October 1918 and March 1919. During that time period, there were an average of nine obits a day. That's roughly 810 deaths in Northampton County. On October 14, there were 93 obits reported by The Express in just one day! This was during a time when there was no medical infrastructure, no anti-viral drugs and no understanding that the flu is caused by a virus. The fatality rate of that pandemic may have been as high as 10%, according to Vox, although no one is really sure.

As of noon yesterday, there were seven deaths total in the entire state from Covid-19. We survived the Spanish Flu. We can make it through this pandemic, too.

Covid-19 and NorCo Operations

COUNTY COUNCIL: The next meeting on April 2, 2020 at 6:30 pm is still scheduled at Council's Chambers, Third Floor, Northampton County Courthouse. Virtual options are being urged.

COUNTY EXECUTIVE: You can reach him online here.

COUNTY COURTS: Currently operating under a judicial emergency under which all courts, including Magisterial District Judges, are closed to the public except for "essential" judicial functions like the protection of victims of domestic violence. Courthouse personnel are still working, though some are doing so remotely for social distancing reasons.

COUNTY TAXES: You can pay online, and the two per cent discount period has been extended from March 31 until May 31. The bast rate applies from June 1 to August 31, 2020. After that, there's a 10% penalty. Dog licenses and fishing licenses may be obtained online. (Statewide Opening Day of trout season will take place on April 18.)

COUNTY COURTHOUSE: Temporarily closed to the public with plans to re-open on April 1. Emergency judicial matters can call ahead to Court Administration at 610-829-6700. Voter registration can occur online. Applications for mail-in ballots can also be requested online. The Presidential Primary scheduled for April 28 may be delayed until June 2.


JAIL: Closed to visitors, volunteers and tours. The jail's inmate population is being reduced.

GRACEDALE: Closed to visitors and volunteers. Employees have temperature checked before being admitted. Tablets are provided for residents who desire to speak with family. Exceptions to "no visitor" policy are made for compassionate reasons. Gracedale is accepting donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) like surgical masks and gowns. Please contact the Gracedale Volunteer Coordinator first at 610-829-3686 to see if your donation can be accepted.

SENIOR CENTERS: Closed pursuant to Governor Tom Wolf's directive. Referrals for Meals on Wheels will be made for seniors who require that service.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: received a shipment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from PEMA to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The shipment including face shields, N-95 and surgical masks and gloves. These items have been distributed to the twelve EMS organizations in the county as well as to municipal police and those fire departments which respond to EMS calls.

COUNTY PARKS: Open, subject to social distancing.

RECYCLING EVENTS: All events scheduled through April have been canceled.

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY FESTIVAL: Rescheduled for October 10, Louise Moore Park.

MUNICIPAL COOPERATION: County officials are working closely with local, state and federal officials.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Bethlehem Reports Six Covid-19 Cases, Including LANTA Bus Driver

From Bethlehem City: Bethlehem currently has a total of six cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). A bus driver for LANTA is among the individuals who recently tested positive for COVID-19. The bus driver worked on March 20, 2020 and drove several trips between Easton and Bethlehem during his or her shift.

The Bethlehem Health Department is working with LANTA to notify employees who may have had close contact with this individual. All close contacts will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. If you feel that you may have had close contact with this individual, please self-monitor for symptoms. If you begin to exhibit symptoms, contact your health care provider to determine if you should be tested.

Since the start of this outbreak, LANTA has enhanced cleaning procedures to disinfect commonly touched surfaces on its buses and vans, such as seat handles, hand rails, etc.

Bethlehem Joins Allentown and NorCo in Extending Property Tax Deadline

Joining Allentown and Northampton County, Bethlehem has announced it will extend tax deadlines.

The deadline for paying Earned Income Tax and Business Privilege Tax has been extended to July 15, 2020 because of the hardship caused to many residents by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 City of Bethlehem’s Real Estate taxes paid or postmarked before May 11, 2020 will be eligible for the 2% discount. In addition, the due date for full payment of the City Real Estate Tax will be extended from May 29, 2020 to August 10, 2020.

Last week, City Council approved Mayor Donchez’s request for an emergency disaster declaration that authorizes taking emergency management measures, to reduce the severity of the pandemic and to protect the health, safety and welfare of affected residents.

Aegrescit Medendo - The Covid-19 Cure is Worse Than the Disease

Several state governors, including our own Chicken Little, have paralyzed their state's economies. It's for our own good, they say. Some communities are being ordered to shelter-in-place. That's for our own good, too. Media outlets bray away at the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases, totally oblivious to the reality that this sudden increase is almost certainly because more testing is available now than there was even a week ago. The nation sits paralyzed in their living rooms, guarding stashes of toilet paper and bottled water, waiting for the end. But we are over-reacting and have created a dangerous precedent for anyone who actually cares about individual liberty or our economy. Let me explain why.

Covid-19 is a brand new virus. It only reared its ugly head in December. So little is known about it. The mortality rate - 10 times that of the common flu - is based on known cases. But what about those who had it and never knew it? For all that you or I know, we could have had this disease. It is illogical and, dare I say, unscientific, to draw conclusions based on insufficient information.

Iceland has been doing extensive testing, proportionately more than any other country. As of March 21, the results of 5,571 tests yielded just 48 positive results (0.86%), meaning the prevalence of the virus is modest. Nearly half of those infected had no symptoms. This is corroborated by a smaller study of 565 Japanese, in which about 31% of those who had Covid-19 never knew it. So what the science tells us, and I agree we should give science priority over histrionics, is that this virus only infects a small segment of the population, and a large proportion of those who get it never get sick.

Without question, some people become seriously ill. A few die. It has to be taken seriously. But we are over-reacting and this matter has become sensationalized. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been spearheading the national response to this pandemic, told CNN he likes to be accused of over-reacting because that means he's doing it right. But he's failed to consider the medical maxim aegrescit medendo, i.e. the cure just might be worse than the disease.

Bret Stephens, a columnist for The New York Times, put it best: "Sooner or later, people will figure out that it is not sustainable to keep tens of millions of people in lockdown; or use population-wide edicts rather than measures designed to protect the most vulnerable; or expect the federal government to keep a $21 trillion economy afloat; or throw millions of people out of work and ask them to subsist on a $1,200 check."

Can we all return to earth already?

Pa. Presidential Primary May Be Delayed Until June 2

On Thursday, at the request of Northampton County Voting Registrar Amy Cozze, County Council unanimously approved a motion to delay the Presidential Primary currently scheduled for April 28. Their request might very well be granted.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Governor Tom Wolf and legislative have reached a deal to delay the election until June 2. Assuming that rank-and-file legislators agree, the delay should be approved this week.

Seven states have already delayed the presidential primary.

This delay means you have amply time to request an application to vote online. You can file an application for a mail-in ballot up to a week before the election. You can either request an application with your county office or file online.

Once you receive a ballot, you have until 8 pm on election day to return it to the county elections office. It must be received by 8 pm or your vote will not be counted.

If you seek a mail-in or even an absentee ballot, and then decide you'd rather vote at your precinct, you will be unable to do so. This rule is in place to prevent people from double-voting.

If you distrust the voting machines, vote by mail.

If you are concerned about Covid-19, vote by mail.

McClure Plans to Re-Open NorCo Courthouse on April Fools' Day

Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure abruptly closed the courthouse last Thursday because people from other counties were using the courthouse to obtain marriage licenses and passports. Yesterday, he released a statement saying he "hopes" to re-open the courthouse on April Fools' Day.

That's appropriate for me.

He notes the courthouse remains open to the following members of the public:

- Any person (including lawyers) with business before the Courts. If you have any questions about an appearance, you should call Court Administration at 610-829-6700.

- Any person seeking a ‘Protection from Abuse’ order will continue to be admitted. If you call ahead at 610-829-6700, a court officer will come to the door and admit you. If it's after hours, a police officer will help you arrange an immediate hearing before a magisterial district judge.

- Any person (including lawyers) who believes, in good faith, that a statute of limitations pertaining to them may expire within the month of March, may be admitted to the building.

- Anyone who needs to post bail, including a bondsman or third party surety.

Allentown and NorCo to Extend Discount Period on Real Estate Tax Bill

Allentown and Northampton County have provided property tax relief to property owners as a result of the financial hardship that has followed Governor Tom Wolf's edicts that essentially prevent most of us from earning money.

In Northampton County, the 2% discount period for Northampton County 2020 Real Estate Taxes has been extended from March 31st to May 31st. Residents will be charged the base rate from June 1, to August 31, 2020. Beginning on September 1, 2020, a 10% penalty will be imposed.

The Northampton County courthouse is currently closed to the public, but payments may be sent in via mail or paid on-line.

In Allentown, the discount period for early payment of 2020 City Real Estate Taxes has been extended from April 5 until May 5, 2020. All 2020 City Real Estate Tax paid or postmarked on or before May 5, 2020, is eligible for a 2% discount.

Allentown is also extending the April 5 filing deadline for 2019 Business Privilege Tax until July 15, 2020. The city will not apply any interest or penalty to any 2019 Business Privilege Taxes paid or postmarked on or before July 15, 2020.

Gracedale Seeks Gloves, Gowns and Masks

Gracedale Nursing Home is accepting donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes gloves, gowns and masks (N95 and surgical) to protect the residents and the staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Please contact the Gracedale Volunteer Coordinator first at 610-829-3686 to see if your donation meets guidelines and can be accepted.

All donations can be dropped off in the lobby at Gracedale Nursing Home at 2 Gracedale Avenue, Nazareth, PA 18064.