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Pennsylvania adds a little more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases

Pennsylvania has logged a little more than 1,000 additional positive cases of the coronavirus as of noon Saturday, with four new cases reported in Washington County.

There were also 72 additional deaths as a result of COVID-19, bringing the overall fatality number in the commonwealth to 3,688. As of noon Saturday, there were 55,316 positive cases of the coronavirus recorded in Pennsylvania, an increase of 1,078 over the previous day. There have been 124 positive cases in Washington County since March, and 27 in Greene County. Greene did not see an increase in positive cases over the last 24 hours.

Even as Washington, Greene and several other counties look toward the yellow phase of reopening next Friday, Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, reminded the commonwealth’s residents to continue social distancing and mitigation efforts.

“We must continue to protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, which includes our seniors, those with underlying health issues, our health care workers and our first responders,” Levine said in a news release. “I am proud of the work that Pennsylvanians have done so far, but we cannot stop now, we must continue to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from COVID-19.”

The release also noted that there had been 11,239 positive cases of the coronavirus among residents of nursing and personal care homes, and 1,605 cases among employees, for a total of 12,844 at 530 distinct facilities in 44 counties. Among Pennsylvania’s total deaths, 2,518 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

Most of the patients hospitalized in Pennsylvania have been aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older, according to the health department.

All in the family
All in the family

Siblings Jillian Whitfield and Jordan Nicodemus have more in common with their mother, Connie Nicodemus, than her infectious smile.

They also followed her career path: All three are nurses.

Whitfield and her mother are home health care nurses: Whitfield, 28, of Canonsburg, is a pediatric home health care nurse for UPMC, while Connie, of Washington, works for Accredo Specialty Pharmacy, where she treats patients with rare and complex diseases.

Jordan, 30, of Washington, is a nurse at West Penn Hospital’s step-down unit and also works in home health care.

“My mom was a huge influence on my career choice,” said Whitfield. “She always talked about what she did when I was growing up. She also is in a unique, interesting branch of nursing. She showed me you don’t have to work in a hospital when you’re a nurse.”

Connie, a native of Ohio, graduated from Ohio Valley School of Nursing.

“To be honest, I went into nursing because my girlfriend was, and we wanted to go to school together,” said Connie, laughing. “But I wanted to go into health care and be involved with helping people.”

Jordan and Jillian said their mother set a caring example at home.

“I’m not surprised that she is such a good nurse, because she is the best mom,” said Jordan. “She’s nurturing and compassionate, and she’s a good listener. During my childhood, she was always willing to listen.”

Jillian agreed.

“My mom’s just the most caring, fun, nurturing person I know. She will go above and beyond to care for her patients,” said Jillian. “And she’s always up for a good party, and she’s an excellent party planner.”

And trip planner. Connie owns a tour bus company called Funburger Tours, and she organizes trips to New York City and other destinations, where she serves as tour guide.

When Jillian got married in Aruba in September, Connie “was there any time I got stressed or was going to have a breakdown over something like the color of flowers,” Jillian said. “I joked that she was an Aruban hostess, she did so much. I honestly couldn’t have done it without my mom.”

Jillian and Jordan’s father, Greg, is also a nurse, who works in pharmaceutical sales.

Jillian graduated from West Penn Hospital School of Nursing and worked at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh before making the switch to home health care. She started thinking about a nursing career in ninth grade at Trinity High School after shadowing a friend of her mother’s.

For Jordan, nursing is a second career.

He worked in heating and air conditioning before he decided to change careers and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from West Penn Hospital and California University of Pennsylvania.

“I was the last in the family to become a nurse. I thought I was going to be the black sheep of the family and not do it, but it was in the blood,” he joked. “I can say it was the best decision I ever made.”

Connie was surprised that both of her children wanted to become nurses.

“I think about that every day, and I can’t believe it happened. I never thought, when they were little kids, that we’d all end up in the same profession,” said Connie. “I’m extremely proud of them, and I’m proud they looked at their parents and thought we had a valuable career that helps people. I’m very humbled that my kids took on our jobs.”

The four often share stories about their work, and Connie confessed they talk about “disgusting things while we are eating that other people don’t want to hear.”

They also enjoy spending time at a lake camp the family has in Ohio.

And Connie spends as much time as she can with her 6-year-old granddaughter, Kali.

“She’s a grandmother who is very good at spoiling her grandchild,” said Jordan.

The family won’t hold their annual Mother’s Day lunch, which usually includes Connie’s and Greg’s families, too, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, Connie, Greg and the kids, along with their significant others, have planned a social distance visit.

Connie recalled being a nurse through the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and admires her children’s dedication to their patients and to the field of nursing.

“I pray every day for their safety,” said Connie, “and I pray that they are instruments for what God wants them to be.”

Finleyville protesters denounce Wolf, urge state to reopen

FINLEYVILLE--About 20 protesters denounced Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and disrupted traffic in downtown Finleyville Saturday afternoon, expressing their anger over the continuing restrictions that have been put in place due to the coronavirus.

They carried signs calling the governor a communist, a dictator and a profane name, saying they wanted “our state back.” Some compared the shutdown orders that have been in place since March to Nazism.

Some protesters were also wearing or waving flags urging the re-election of President Donald Trump.

Tracy Lawrence, the protest’s organizer, said Wolf was abridging the constitutional rights of Pennsylvanians.

“We want our country back,” he said. Lawrence also said the protest was about “the freedom to go to church and work your ass off.”

The protest in Finleyville was one of many that have taken place around the country to protest the shutdown orders that have been put in place by governors to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus outbreak. As of Saturday, the coronavirus has killed more than 280,000 people around the world, with 77,000 of them in the United States. Polls have found most Americans supporting the lockdown efforts.

Some of the protesters urged drivers to honk their horns if they agreed with them, and many drivers did. Finleyville resident John Bryer came out on his porch to applaud the protesters, asserting that the restrictions have been “a sham.”

Another Finleyville resident, Jack Crayton, who held a sign saying that Wolf “must go,” said he was concerned about the impact the coronavirus shutdowns have been having on struggling businesses in the borough.

“We’ve got three bars and two clubs, and they’re going under,” he said.

Not all Finleyville residents supported the protest. Benjamin Fetchen hosted a community meeting online to serve as “an alternative” to the protest.

“It’s more of an effort to bring people together,” he said.