As LebTown continues to track the fast-moving story of the novel coronavirus, we’ve put together a summary of other COVID-19 related news in the past 48 hours.

Lebanon County Emergency Services chief: PPE stocks holding up so far, but supply chain concerns lead to county call for protective equipment donations

A Tuesday press release from Lebanon County Administrator and Public Information Officer Jamie Wolgemuth asked the public for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 face masks, disinfecting wipes, and latex gloves.

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In a telephone call Wednesday, Lebanon County Director of Emergency Services Bob Dowd told LebTown that he was not aware of any Lebanon County first responders or medical facilities that had actually run out of PPE, or that were in imminent danger of running out.

But, Dowd stressed, supply chains for PPE are uncertain and this is no time to get complacent.

“There is an industry-wide supply shortage that is absolutely affecting our local supplies,” he said. “The concerns are real,” he continued, “but we at the current time are able to supply first responders with the equipment they need.”

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Referring to pre-coronavirus times when PPE items were routinely used once then discarded, Dowd said “the mindset has changed across the industry to conservation. Now we’re asking ‘How do we reuse this?’ The CDC is pushing out some guidelines for this.”

Hershey Medical Center providing financial assistance to patients during coronavirus emergency

Penn State Hershey Medical Center has set up a program to help patients who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 emergency. Among the new support measures implemented are added financial counselors, and the ability to restructure or defer payments and previously arranged payment plans.

“These adjustments will be made on a case-by-case basis as counselors work individually with patients and their families to help them with their specific needs,” said HMC spokesperson Barbara Schindo.

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Dan Angel, vice president of Revenue Cycle at Penn State Health said that HMC is “here to help during this unprecedented situation. We want patients to be able to focus on their care—especially during this time of ongoing uncertainty—and not their financial situation.”

The health system, which includes St. Joseph Hospital in Reading, has also added customer service representatives staffing its toll-free help line at 800-264-2619.

Making a Difference, Dominos, Fresh Donuts feed frontline workers

Local community organization Making a Difference of Lebanon Pa. recently teamed up with city businesses Fresh Donuts and Dominos Pizza to distribute food to medical workers and first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus emergency.

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Making a Difference volunteer Alex Cruz spearheaded the effort.

Making a Difference president Cornell Wilson said that donuts and pizzas were handed out on Sunday and Monday to local police, First Aid & Safety Patrol, Spang Crest, Good Samaritan and Lebanon VA Hospital ERs, Volunteers in Medicine, Lebanon Family Health Services, Cedar Haven, and Welsh Mountain Health Center.

Making a Difference recently started a new Facebook group, Lebanon Helping Lebanon.

Local Dominos Pizza operator John Bower told LebTown on Wednesday that he expects Dominos’ corporate headquarters to start a coronavirus program that will allow local Dominos stores to donate even more to the COVID-19 response.

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Read More: Domino’s Pizza delivered the Bowers to Lebanon

Giant Foods adds third-party security to maintain social distancing in stores

Giant Food Stores has announced that “[a]s an added precaution, we’re working with a third-party provider to bring in security personnel to help maintain a safe environment for our team members and customers.”

According to Giant spokesperson Ashley Flower the measures are intended to “ensure that social distancing is being practiced as well as helping to manage the increased traffic our stores are experiencing. This will also allow our team to spend more time taking care of customers and restocking shelves.”

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Giant operates three grocery stores in Lebanon County.

First Energy donates $5k to Central PA Food Bank Military Share

FirstEnergy, local electricity provider Met-Ed’s parent company, “is trying to help communities get through these unprecedented times with contributions to United Way agencies and area food banks,” said spokesperson Todd Meyers.

“In the Lebanon area, this includes a $5,000 donation to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Military Share to help stock its shelves with food.”

Latest on City of Lebanon Services

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On Tuesday, City of Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello issued an update on the city’s response so far to the COVID-19 outbreak. Measures taken by the city so far include:

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  • A March 17 disaster emergency declaration allowing the city to bypass bidding and other time consuming procedures normally required by law to hire employees, purchase supplies, and enter into contracts.
  • The March 17 closing all city offices in the Municipal Building to the public.
  • The March 20 suspension of street sweeping and sweeping.
  • The suspension of all parking enforcement to help city residents who are home bound. Enforcement will continue for safety reasons such as blocking fire hydrants.
  • The March 23 closing of the city’s Lehman Street recycling center.
  • The March 28 cordoning off of equipment at city playgrounds.

Empower the Mind offering free online video support groups

Local counseling group Empower the Mind, LLC, is hosting online Zoom video forums “for anyone who just feels like they need interaction or support right now.”

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The free online discussion forum and support group is being held on Mondays at 3:00 p.m. and Fridays at 5:00 p.m.

To join in, you’ll need to install the Zoom software on your computer. Once you’ve done that, you can get connected by going to this link and entering the pass code 863758.

Empower’s Lebanon office is at 746 Cumberland Street.

Trout season opening day pushed to April 18

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The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has set back opening day of trout season to April 18.

Mayor Capello said Wednesday that the city is receiving a large number of calls from fishermen and fisherwomen about trout season opening day. The mayor urges those with questions about trout season to go to the commission’s website.

LV Rail Trail is open, even under the governor’s stay-at-home order

The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail remains open. The governor’s stay-at-home order says that “individuals are permitted to engage in outdoor activities.”

The folks at LVRT remind you to practice safe distancing, just as you are doing everywhere else.

From LVRT Facebook page.

Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

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