This morning alone, I have received four news releases from Northampton County. This local government is doing its best to keep local citizens informed about the impact of Covid-19. Based on these recent news releases, let me update you on Northampton County operations.
COUNTY COUNCIL: Starting April 16 at 6:30 PM, Northampton County Council will conduct its meetings by Skype. The meetings will continue to be livestreamed at Northampton County's Youtube channel. The public may participate in these meetings by phoning 610-829-6605, and then entering Conference ID No. 2055694. The public is able to participate in these meetings by sending questions or comments to the Council Clerk, Linda Zembo, at LZembo@northamptoncounty.org. You will be able to review the agenda for each meeting on Council's webpage.
Skype will show Council members when they are speaking.
Northampton County Council last met on March 19.
COUNTY EXECUTIVE: You can reach him online at the Northampton County web page under County Executive. His office has issued numerous statements, sometimes several in one day, as the County deals with the pandemic.
TESTING: Executive Lamont McClure is requesting the PA Department of Health to establish a Covid-19 testing site in Northampton County. Geographically, Northampton County is adjacent or near to three major Coronavirus hot spots in the United States.
COUNTY COURTS: Currently operating under a judicial emergency in 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. Those with judicial emergencies can call ahead to Court Administration at 610-829-6700.
COUNTY TAXES: You can pay online, and the two per cent discount period has been extended from March 31 until May 31. The base rate applies from June 1 to August 31, 2020. After that, there's a 10% penalty. Dog licenses and fishing licenses may be still be obtained online. (Statewide Opening Day of trout season was scheduled to open April 18, but the Fish and Boat Comm'n opened it on Tuesday, April 7, with no advance notice to the public.)
LOAN RELIEF: Northampton County has established a $250,000 emergency relief loan program for small businesses, with a maximum $15,000 loan payable over 12 months with no interest. Contact Community and Economic Development for details at (610) 829-6306.
COUNTY COURTHOUSE: Remains closed to the public until at least April 30.
HUMAN SERVICES: Accepting donations of tents, sleeping bags and non-perishable food to assist the homeless. Donations may be dropped off at the Human Services Building, located at 2801 Emrick Blvd, Bethlehem, Pa. 18020.
RECORDER OF DEEDS: Though the courthouse is closed to the public, documents can still be e-recorded.
CIVIL DIVISION: Because the Courthouse is closed to the public, the civil division is unable to process passport applications. Moreover, the office has no e-filing capability
ELECTIONS: Though the Elections Office is closed to the public, you can still register to vote, change your registration or request a mail-in ballot at www.votespa.com. The Presidential Primary has been delayed from April 28 until June 2.
OTHER COMMITTEES, COMMISSIONS and BOARDS: No meetings scheduled.
JAIL: Covid-19 has infected five inmates. They've been quarantined since they first showing symptoms, and are being treated by PrimeCare Medical. Four staffers have also been infected. These include corrections officers and a PrimeCare employee. One employee is expected to return to work today.
Employees, volunteers, visitors and tours were banned at the jail on March 10th. Inmates may still contact their loved ones via phone, tablets or mail.
Thirty-three nonviolent offenders have been released from the jail since March 31. As of today, there are 556 inmates at the jail.
GRACEDALE: Twenty-four residents have tested positive for Covid-19, and two have passed away.
Out of the 700 employees which work at Gracedale, 18 have tested positive for the Coronavirus. All are at home in self-quarantine.
The facility has been closed to visitors and volunteers since March 11. Employees have temperature checked before being admitted and when they leave. Resident vital signs, including oxygen saturation, are measured at least once a day. 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. No resident has tested positive for Covid-19.
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: Has been distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from PEMA and other organizations 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.
UNEMPLOYMENT: Workforce Lehigh Valley reports 21,453 unemployment compensation claims between March 29 and April 4.
COUNTY PARKS: Closed as of April 7 until further notice.
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.
CORONER: As of today, Covid-19 has claimed 25 lives within Northampton County. The municipalities in which they lived are as follows: Forks Twp. (1); Lower Nazareth Twp. (2): Bangor Boro (1); Palmer Twp. (7); Upper Nazareth Twp. (2); Williams Twp. (1); Nazareth Boro (1); Bethlehem Twp (5); City of Bethlehem (1); Washington Twp (1); Phillipsburg, NJ (1); and Bronx, NY (1).
Their average age was 78.7.
Gender of the Deceased: 56% Female/44% Male
Race of the Deceased: 72% White, 16% African American, 4% Asian or Pacific Islander, 8% Hispanic